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La reproduction interdite

La reproduction interdite

René Magritte (in 1937)

Ask anything

  • Bjorn Mathijssen asked

    Why did this specific painting of Magritte become so famous?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Bjorn,

    That is very difficult to know for sure. In this particular case, the work is particularly famous because it was a commission from Edward James who asked Magritte to make a self-portrait of himself along with other works to decorate his London home. James was a wealthy English man who was well known and who became a patron of Magritte and Dalí in the early years of their careers.


  • Niamh Murray asked

    I would like to enquire as to where La reproduction interdite can be viewed in the coming months or if there are any plans on this particular work by René Magritte travelling .
    Many thanks
    Niamh Murray

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Niamh, you are lucky because this painting is exhibited now on the fifth floor of Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, in a presentation entitled: Beloved. You can enjoy it together with 70 other beloved works from the collection. Kind regards, Els

  • Ingrid asked

    What are the particulars of Rene Magritte’s Reproduction Interdite?
    • Medium used (oil on canvas?)
    • Dimensions of the painting
    Does “Depot” mean simply that the painting is not currently on view (i.e., in storage)? Do you have any more paintings by Magritte (in storage or on view) in which Magritte employs the rückenfigur motif?
    THANK YOU for your help!

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Ingrid, you can find all specifics when you click the orange button 'show all details'. As I write this answer the painting is stored at the depot, but from March 23rd onward it will be on show in Gallery III on the fifth floor of the depot as part of the presentation 'Beloved'. And to anwer your last question: yes we also have a gpouache by Magritte entitled 'La maison de verre' on which a figure is show at the back. Here's the online collection link: https://www.boijmans.nl/en/collection/artworks/4235/la-maison-de-verre. Kind regards, Els

  • Laurence Lignel asked

    I read that this work La reproduction interidte coiuld also be seen as a self portrait of Magritte since the two men looked alike. Any thruth in that?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Laurence, no I am sorry to disappoint you but the man in the mirror (without a face) is based on the appearance of the wealthy British poet and mecenas Edward James. We know this from a photo and a letter Magritte wrote to James when he was working on the painting. Magritte, however, based many figures in his paintings on his own appearance, characterized by the bowler hat he used to wear. Kind regards, Els

  • Mohammad Mustafa asked

    Hi! Will the painting be available to view at the museum on 20th till 30th December 2023?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Mohammad, the museum is closed for renovation, but we will be pleased to receive you in our storage facility, Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen, which is the first public depot in the world and certainly worth a visit. Magritte's painting is part of a travelling exhibition and will be at the ARoS museum in Aarhus (Danmark) at the time. It will be back in February 2024. Kind regards, Els

  • Žiga Kelenc asked

    Who photographed the painting La reproduction interdite? You don't have any dat on that.

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Ziga, in case you need a photograph of the painting, you can contact images@boijmans.nl. They will send you the file, including the name of the photographer. Kind regards, Els

  • Victoria asked

    Hi! Will the painting be available to view at the museum in October 2023?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Victoria,
    The museum is closed for renovation at the moment. Our depot is open, but it is not an exhibition space as such. It is therefore very difficult to know for us what works will be on view and not. In any case, I do know that this specific painting will probably be in Denmark as part of a Surrealism show that has been traveling around the world for a few years now. So unfortunately I can say with some certainty that this artwork by Magritte will not be on view at that time.

  • Herick Henrique Silva asked

    Boa tarde, estou desenvolvendo um trabalho de analise critica, e desenvolvimento de releitura, gostaria de saber qual valor estimado da obra.

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Herick, I am sorry, but we we do not speak or write Portuguese. I guess that you ask about the value of the painting. We cannot say anything about the financial value, but the art historical value of this painting is enormous. Kind regards, Els

  • NOHÉMY asked

    Bonjour, ou puis-je voir le tableau la reproduction interdite s’il vous plaît ? Car il n’est pas à Rotterdam

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Bonjour Nohémy, vous pouvez voir le tableau à Milano (MUDEC) a partir de 22 mars. Salutations, Els

  • Michael asked

    Hi! My name is Michael. I want to find out meaning of whole painting. Why is Edward James not reflect? What does book mean? For what Magritte painted this?
    I wish administration of site have a good day :)

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Michael, you are asking a question that is at the heart of Magritte's work. Magritte painted the piece for Edward James and the book on the mantle is by Edgar Allan Poe. What this all means is much harder to explain. He is playing with perception (the incorrect mirroring), the title 'Not to be reproduced', etc. Tip: Boijmans has an extensive library that holds much more information about this piece than I can tell you here. Best, Lisa

  • Tommaso asked

    Where is the painting "La reproduction interdite" by René Magritte currently? Because I would like to see this work live

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Tommaso,

    this painting is currently in Mexico City, where it will remain until late October. For more information regarding this exhibition: https://www.boijmans.nl/en/exhibitions/only-the-marvelous-is-beautiful


  • bijan asked

    I am very interested on:La reproduction interdite (by René Magritte) 1937
    Is it possible to have a high resolution image?just for personal use?
    best wishes

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Bijan, you can reach out to images@boijmans.nl to request this. Best, Lisa

  • Victoria asked

    Hello! Could you tell where I can find the painting "La reproduction interdite" of Rene Magritte this year please? Which cities and dates? Thanks a lot!

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Victoria, the exhibition ‘Only the Marvelous is Beautiful’ in Mexico City is open until October 2022: https://www.boijmans.nl/index.php/en/exhibitions/only-the-marvelous-is-beautiful
    After that the artworks will probably travel back to Rotterdam and will be stored at Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen. I cannot be sure that this artwork by Magritte will be on view or not. Best, Lisa

  • Yvette asked

    Hey! Which museum keeps the fotograph on wich "La reproduction interdite" ist based? Thank you very much for your help!

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Yvette,

    Unfortunately we do not have access to the databases of other museums, but a good guess would be contacting the Magritte Museum in Brussels. They might know more. https://www.musee-magritte-museum.be/en

    Good luck,

  • Nathan Nocchi asked

    Hello, is René Magritte's work La reproduction interdite in the common domain?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Nathan, thank you for your question. No, the work is not yet in the public domain since the artist died less than seventy years ago. In case you want to reproduce the painting, you have to ask permission to the Magritte Foundation in Brussels, Belgium. I hope this information is helpful. Kind regards, Els

  • Laszlo Küster asked

    Hello, can "la reproduction interdite" be seen in the depot at the end of 2021?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Laszlo,
    This painting is currently abroad. Under the title 'A Surreal Shock. Masterpieces from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen', it is displayed from November 27, 2021 to March 6, 2022 at the Seoul Arts Center (SAC) in South-Korea. After this it travels to Mexico City. I hope this answers your question! Kind regards, Sofie

  • Gabriela Załecka asked

    Im a teacher from Poland and I would like to ask if I can place reproduction of Rene Magritte paintings in my school project.I would be really gratefull for Your quick response. The subject of my lesson for primary school is surrealism and collage and the lesson would be placed on government education platform . here is the example of the lesson on this platform https://zpe.gov.pl/a/pop-art-tworze-portret-w-stylu-popartowskim-o-to-nie-takie-trudne/Dys3OSAn5
    best regards

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Gabriela, best to read all about image requests on this webpage https://www.boijmans.nl/en/image-requests. All best, Lisa Heinis.

  • Laura asked

    hello, can you help me with the general interpretation of the Artwork please?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Laura,
    you can come up with an enormous amount of different interpretations for this painting, that's what I personally like about it. The most widely accepted interpretation is that Magritte did not depict the face of the sitter, Edward James, for this painting, in order to show something of the person in question. Edward James was a very wealthy British patron who hid his real personality behind a dandy-like appearance. Magritte and James had good contact. Magritte had set himself a goal to 'paint images that evoke the riddle of the world'. That worked out well in this painting, don't you think? I hope this answers your question! Kind regards, Sofie

  • Cristina Libério asked

    Dear Sirs:
    On the 10th February I've sent a form requesting an image (and authorization) for it's use in a front cover of a book. Until now I didn't received any information, just an email confirmation that my request was well received. We have some urgence in this image. Can you please help?

    Thank you and best wishes

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Cristina, I can't find your earlier request. For requests regarding images it's best to send an email to images@boijmans.nl They can help you!
    Kind regards,

  • bo duke asked

    Dear sir or madame, When is the painting "La reproduction interdite" of Rene Magritte back in Rotterdam? Where is it in the mean time?

    erg bedankt

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Bo, until September 27th 2020 the painting is exhibited in 'This is Surrealism!' at the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen (very close to Amsterdam). Thereafter it will be in depot for some months, after which it will travel to Wellington (New-Zealand) and several other international venues. It won't be back in Rotterdam until the autumn of 2022. Kind regards, Els

  • cata asked

    Buenas tardes, quería saber si puedo utilizar la imagen de la obra "La reproducción Interdita" citando su museo. Muchas Gracias

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Cata, unfortunately my Spanish is very poor. I understand that you want to know if it is possible to use the image of La reproduction interdite. Yes it is, but I advise you to contact our reproduction departement to acquire a hi res image and lear about the conditions. The address is: images@boijmans.nl Good luck with your project! Els

  • Liz Van Dyke asked

    Hi, where is Not To Be Reproduced traveling? When will it be returned to Rotterdam?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Liz, the painting will travel to Wellington in New-Zealand, where it will be shown in the exhibition 'Dali and the Surrealists' at the Te Papa Tongewara Museum, together with many other Surrealist works from our collection.

  • F van den Boogert asked

    Ik ben opzoek naar een reproductie van "La reproduction interdite" van R.Margritte, als cadeau voor mijn zoon, die zijn lievelingsreproductie verloor door een echtscheiding. Kan ik deze bij U kopen?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Wat vervelend om te horen. Helaas heb ik ook slecht nieuws, op het moment verkopen wij geen reproducties van kunstwerken in de museumwinkel. Gezien de verbouwing van het museum en de deuren die van Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen pas in 2021 open zullen gaan. Maar Art Unlimited biedt ansichtkaarten van het schilderij op internet aan. Zie: https://www.artunlimited.com/1a00227-la-reproduction-interdite-1937-kaart.html. Groeten, Sarie

  • Yaffa Goldfinger asked

    I am responsible for the copyright management in Tel Aviv Museum of Art. I need a hi/res scan of the artwork to use in a catalogue of an exhibition. To whom should I apply. thank you for your answer.

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Yaffa, it is best to e-mail your request to images@boijmans.nl. They will help you! Kind regards, Sarie.

  • George asked

    What is the book title on the mirror shelf? Thank you.

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear George, it is a French edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s 'The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket' (1838). Best, Rianne

  • Stephen Williams asked

    Hello, what is the proper English translation for this painting? It is normally called 'Not to be reproduced' seems a weak translation 'Reproduction is forbidden' sounds stronger and more authoritarian. What do you think? Thanks

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    In our system its offical English title is "Not to be Reproduced"

  • Eric asked

    Does "Not to Be Reproduced" have a backstory like "The Pleasure Principle" where Magritte had an idea and then asked James if he'd be the subject?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    No, this portrait was actually commissioned by James. Magritte based the portrait on a photograph he made of Edward James looking at the painting 'On the threshold of freedom'. Best, Rianne

  • Emma Sells asked

    What does the book cover say?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Emma,
    The bookcover in this painting says “Aventures d’Arthur Gordon Pym”, in English “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket”, a novel of Edgar Allan Poe.
    Kind regards,

  • Uwe Saint-Mont asked

    Hello, I would like to use "La reproduction interdite" as an illustration in a scientific article. Is there a copyright issue? Sincerely, U. Saint-Mont. Professor at Nordhausen Univ. of Applied Sciences, Germany

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Uwe, yes there is. In the Netherlands Magritte is represented by Pictoright. For further info, please contact images@boijmans.nl. Best, Rianne

  • giovanni asked

    hi, I am doing a research on "La reproduction interdite" and would like to know the date that has come to your museum (1977?) and where it was before coming here. thank you.

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Giovanni, it was acquired in 1977 from the Edward James Foundation. Best, Rianne

  • bronk asked

    Dear sir or madame, When is the painting "La reproduction interdite" of Rene Magritte back in Rotterdam? Where is it in the mean time? Thank you very much.

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Bronk, this painting is part of a travelling exhibition on Surrealism, and will again be on view at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen from 11 February, as part of the exhibition Mad About Surrealism. Right now 'La reproduction interdite' is on view at the National Galleries Schotland (until 11 September) and from 7 October - 22 January you can find the painting at the Hamburger Kunsthalle. All the best, Rianne


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More information
  • What do you see?

The thing that interested the Belgian surrealist artist Magritte was the mystery that lay in everyday visible reality. He was not so much inspired by the invisible, the subconscious and dream images but rather by ordinary objects to which he gave a twist. The man Magritte portrays here is the eccentric wealthy Englishman Edward James. He was a friend of the artist and bought various works from him. In the 1930s Edward James was the benefactor of both Dalí and Magritte. Magritte based the portrait on a photograph he made of Edward James looking at the painting 'On the threshold of freedom'.

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Collection book

Collection book Order


Title La reproduction interdite
Material and technique Oil on canvas
Object type
Painting > Painting > Two-dimensional object > Art object
Location This object is in storage
Dimensions Height 81 cm
Width Error: 65,5 is not a valid BCD value cm
Thickness 2 cm
Artists Painter: René Magritte
Accession number 2939 (MK)
Credits Purchased 1977
Department Modern Art
Acquisition date 1977
Creation date in 1937
Collector Collector / Edward James
Provenance Edward James, Chichester 1937-64; Edward James Foundation, Chichester 1964-77
Exhibitions London 1938; London 1969; London 1973a; Hamburg 1982; Humlebaek 1983; Düsseldorf 1996-97; Brussels 1998; Brighton 1998; Paris 2003; London/Rotterdam/Bilbao 2007-08; New York/Houston/Chicago 2013-14; Edinburgh/Hamburg/Rotterdam 2016-17
Internal exhibitions Een prikkelcollectie (2000)
The Collection Enriched (2011)
Gek van surrealisme (2017)
De collectie als tijdmachine (2017)
Lievelingen (2024)
External exhibitions Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary 1926-1938 (2013)
Surreal Encounters - Collecting the Marvellous (2016)
Dalí, Ernst, Miró, Magritte... (2016)
Dal nulla al sogno (2018)
Magritte, Broodthaers & de hedendaagse kunst (2017)
Dalí, Magritte, Man Ray and Surrealism. Highlights from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (2023)
A Surreal Shock – Masterpieces from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (2021)
Surrealist Art - Masterpieces from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (2021)
A Surreal Shock. Masterpieces from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (2023)
Only the Marvelous is Beautiful (2022)
Research Show research A dream collection - Surrealism in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Literature London 1973, p. 35, cat. no. 41; Sylvester 1992a, p. 244; Sylvester 1993a, p. 244, cat. no. 436; Caws 2004, p. 87; Rotterdam 2006, pp. 112, 118; Rotterdam 2007, pp. 110-11; London/Rotterdam/Bilbao 2007-08, pp. 276-77, cat. no. 13; New York/Houston/Chicago 2013-14, pp. 205-06, fig. 123; Edinburgh 2016, pp. 200, 215, 248, cat. no. 97
Geographical origin Belgium > Western Europe > Europe

Entry catalogue A dream collection - Surrealism in Museum Boijmans Van beuningen

Author: Marijke Peyser

From 12 February to 19 March 1937 Magritte stayed in London with the English collector and patron Edward James, where he worked on a triptych for the ballroom of James’s house in Wimpole Street (see Le modèle rouge III). During that stay the artist received two more commissions. James wanted to add a new version of Le monde poétique, a painting made in 1926, to his collection.[1] He had seen the work in the Young Belgian Artists exhibition staged in the London Gallery in January 1937.[2] The second commission concerned his portrait.[3] From correspondence between Magritte and his wife Georgette, it is clear that the artist wanted to paint the portrait on his return to Brussels from a photograph of James.[4] In mid-April James sent Magritte a number of photographs. It is almost certain that the photograph of James standing looking at the large canvas Au seuil de la liberté (1937), one of the three paintings intended for the ballroom, was the point of departure for the portrait.[5] When the commissions were finished Magritte wrote to James: ‘I think that you will be very happy with La reproduction interdite. I am extremely curious to hear what sort of impression it makes on you and also on Dalí (hasn’t he been in London for some time?).’[6]

In La reproduction interdite James stands in front of a mirror in his London house. The mirror hangs above one of the mantelpieces in the ballroom.[7] Instead of reflecting his face, however, this mirror shows the back of James’s head. This odd situation is reinforced by the correct reflection of the book that lies on the mantelpiece, a copy of the French edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838). The book represents a permitted reproduction, James a forbidden reproduction; and the mirror the embodiment of the irrational.[8] Like Poe’s only novel, in which he appears to tell a realistic story of a disastrous expedition to the Southern Ocean, but which turns out to be an intangible and fantastic tale, the young man appears to be realistic, but is not in any way.

This ‘portrait manqué’ – a portrait in which the sitter’s face is invisible – met with James’s approval: in November 1937 he asked Magritte’s permission to depict the work on the cover of Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggarman, Wop (1937) the book he was about to have published.[9] James published this volume of stories, poems and letters under the pseudonym Edward Selsey, so the choice of an unrecognisable portrait was an obvious one. The work has been reproduced countless times and now is one of the icons in the museum’s Surrealism collection.



[1] Sylvester 1993a, p. 243.

[2] Sylvester 1992b, p. 187: the canvas was loaned by E.L.T. Mesens for this exhibition.

[3] Sylvester 1993a, p. 248: during Magritte’s stay in London he and James discussed the possibilities of another portrait, Le principe du plaisir (1937), in which the figure’s head would be replaced by a brilliant light. According to Sylvester, it is not certain that it was to be a portrait of James.

[4] Ibid., p. 53, letter dated 10 March to Georgette Magritte.

[5] Ibid., p. 244.

[6] Ibid. letter dated 18 May 1937.

[7] New York/Houston/Chicago 2013-14, p. 205.

[8] Gassner in Rotterdam 2017, p. 173.

[9] Sylvester 1993a, p. 244, see also Grunenberg/Pih 2011, p. 141.

Show research A dream collection - Surrealism in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
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All about the artist

René Magritte

Lessen 1898 - Schaarbeek 1967

René Magritte studied at the academy in Brussels. He began as pattern designer in a carpet factory and as painter by painting and designing advertising posters...

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