Rene Magritte’s Ciel-Bouteille to make $1.1m?

Rene Magritte’s Ciel-Bouteille, one of the artist’s iconic painted wine bottles, is offered with an estimate of £800,000 ($1.1m) at Sotheby’s.

The work is one of 30 or so bottles Magritte painted between the early 1940s and the mid-1960s. Canvas was not easily available during the war years and so he decided to improvise.

Rene Magritte Ciel

The bottles showcase Magritte's breathtaking skill as a painter 

Expert Sarah Whitfield explained in a 1992 essay: “Magritte began painting on bottles during the Occupation, possibly in the autumn of 1940 when he wrote to [British surrealist patron] Edward James telling him about his new idea.

“Some months later James, who had moved to America and was trying to find ways of helping Magritte, reminded him of that letter and suggested that a ready market for painted bottles was to be found in the States.

“’It’s New York taste exactly, and Hollywood’s too,’ he told him, and pointed out that New Yorkers, who were more sophisticated than Londoners, had long shown a taste for that sort of ‘fantasy’.”

The present example was part of the personal collection of Magritte’s wife, Georgette, until she died in 1986.

It was then sold to the Château Giscours winery in Bordeaux.

Another of Magritte’s painted bottles (Femme-Bouteille) sold for $700,000 at Christie’s in 2016.

There has been growing interest in Magritte’s work among collectors, with a piece titled La Corde Sensible selling for a record £15.2m ($18.9m) in 2017.

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