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La reproduction interdite

La reproduction interdite

René Magritte (in 1937)

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  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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,
    Esther

  • 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

  • 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"

  • 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

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  • 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

Specifications

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 65.5 cm
Thickness 2 cm
Artists Schilder: René Magritte
Accession number 2939 (MK)
Credits Aankoop / Purchase: 1977
Department Modern Art
Acquisition date 1977
Age artist About 39 years old
Collector Collector / Edward James
Exhibitions Een prikkelcollectie (2000)
The Collection Enriched (2011)
Gek van surrealisme (2017)
De collectie als tijdmachine (2017)
External exhibitions Dalí, Ernst, Miró, Magritte... (2016)
Magritte, Broodthaers & de hedendaagse kunst (2017)
Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary 1926-1938 (2013)
Surreal Encounters - Collecting the Marvellous (2016)
Dal nulla al sogno (2018)
Material
Object
Geographical origin Belgium > Western Europe > Europe

Please note: The metadata of this object have not been checked.
Contact a curator if something seems incorrect.

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.

 

Footnotes

[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.

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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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