Magritte’s La Corde Sensible sets new artist record

Rene Magritte’s La Corde Sensible (1960) has set a new record for the artist’s work at auction.

It sold for £15.2m ($18.9m) at Christie's surrealist sale in London yesterday. That beats the previous record of $11.5m set for L’empire des lumieres (1952) in 2002 by 64.3%.

Rene Magritte Christies

Rene Magritte became obsessed with juxtaposing seemingly unconnected objects 

The canvas is a fine example from Magritte’s late period. Like much of his work from this era, it focuses on juxtaposing two objects.

The idea arose in 1932, when he dreamed he saw a birdcage with an egg in it.

The relationship is absurd, but has an underlying balance and sense of completion that Magritte began to strive for in his work. In this case, the cloud and the enormous glass are linked by water.

Magritte explained: “I feel a drive to paint a cloud, perhaps a hundred.

“And I surround them with forms the meaning of which escapes me until I am once more visited by inspiration and I know that what is suitable under the cloud is a crystal glass.”

Magritte’s 2002 record was also beaten by Le Domaine d’Arnheim (1938), which sold for £10.2m ($12.7m).

This is Magritte’s first realisation in oil of his series of juxtapositions.

It depicts two eggs balanced on a window ledge overlooking a mountain face, which resembles a bird spreading its wings.

Magritte was so taken with this theme that he would paint several versions; seven in gouache and two in oil.

This example comes from the collection of the great surrealist patron Edward James, whose Dali collection crossed the block at Christie’s last year.  

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