Paintings By Rene Magritte: His Major Artisitic Work

Early Years and Personal Life

Rene Magritte or Rene Francois Ghislain Magritte as he was known was a Belgian artist from the early 20th century. He was born in the city of Lessines, Belgium, on the 21st of November 1898. He came from a middle class family, and was the son of a tailor named Leopold Magritte and Regina Magritte who had been a milliner before marriage. Rene Magritte had shown great interest and aptitude for drawing from an early age and he began taking his first proper drawing lessons when he was 12 years old.

Very little is known about Magritte’s early life but it is known that he had a traumatic experience when he was 14 years old, his mother committed suicide in 1914. This wasn’t the first time that his mother had tried to commit suicide, she had done so unsuccessfully for a number of times before too. It is believed that the young Magritte was present at the time his mother’s body was recovered from the river where she had drowned.

The death of his mother, and the fact that her dress was covering her face when she was recovered is said to have had a profound effect on the young Rene Magritte, and this disturbing image has been the source of several paintings made by Magritte during the 1927-1928 era, his subjects in these paintings also had their faces covered by some form of cloth.

He would go on to create many world renowned paintings over the next half century, always inspiring wonder and a sense of mystique in his viewers.

Artistic Style, Influences, Major Works


Rene Magritte was primarily a surrealist artist who always created unique artworks that challenged the preconditioned perceptions of proportion and reality; his viewers would often gaze at his paintings mesmerized.

His witty and thought provoking paintings created a wave of surrealist art over the next few decades and many artists followed the trends made popular by Rene Magritte.

Magritte had experimented with Impressionism in the early part of his career and had seen moderate success. He took extensive training at the Academia Royale des Beaux Arts from 1916 to 1918, but he found the training under Constant Montald uninspiring.

Most of his paintings from this early era were made in the Metzinger Cubism style and most of them were female nudes. Magritte also delved in a brief episode of Futurism during the 1920s but this genre never really appealed to him.


He got married to his long term associate Georgette Berger in 1922, during this time he also worked as a wallpaper draughtsman and advertisement designer until 1926.

He turned to full time painting during the late 1920s, his first painting was the surreal classic “The Lost Jockey” which was also exhibited at the 1927 art exhibition at Brussels. Though initially panned by the critics this style of artistic expression would go on to become the signature style of Rene Magritte. This initial failure caused Magritte to move to Paris where he became involved in the surrealist group headed by Andre Breton.

Magritte’s genius as a surrealist painter was soon recognized by the group and within a year he had become one of the group’s leading members.

After staying in Paris for 3 years he came back to Brussels where he resumed his advertizing business (this time collaborating with his brother to establish his own business). He also stayed at the house of Edward James, the notable English surrealist patron who allowed him to stay rent free and paint.

More Reading: A Brief Introduction to DIY Art Paintings

Edward James made a great influence on Magritte and is featured in two of his paintings too. Some of Rene Magritte’s famous works include “The Empire of Light” (1954), “The Good Omens” (1944), “The Bather and the Window” (1925), “The Menaced Assasin” (1927), “The Treachery of Images” (1929), “On the Threshold of Liberty” (1937), “Elective Affinities” (1933), “The Portrait” (1935), “The Empty Mask” (1928), “Not to be Reproduced” (1937), “Universal Gravitation” (1943), “The Mysteries of the Horizon” (1966), “Victory” (1939), “The Enchanted Domain” (1957), “The Castle in the Pyrenees” (1959), “The Art of Living” (1967), “The Memoirs of a Saint” (1960), “The Telescope” (1963), among others.

About the author

Arlene is a passionate art lover, with interests including researching famous historic painters, oil paintings, wall arts, and doodling around with colors!

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