It could be a holiday snapshot, with glimpses of the green verdure of the Normandy coast and the sea beyond. But through the simple device of the shrouds that cover the lovers' heads, tug back against their faces and curl like ropes across their shoulders, the spontaneous intimacy of this 'holiday snapshot' becomes a spectre of alienation, suffocation, even death. Outwardly so ordinary, even absurd, this image becomes chillingly real in the mind's eye.
A source for the shrouded heads in Magritte's paintings has been suggested in the memory of his mother's apparent suicide. In 1912, when Magritte was only thirteen years of age, his mother was found drowned in the river Sambre; when her body was recovered from the river, her nightdress was supposedly wrapped around her head. Magritte himself disliked explanations which diffused the mystery of his images. His matter-of-fact style deliberately eschewed the assumption that these images were simply the expression of personal fantasy or private neurosis. They are images calculated to unlock the darker side of the mind.
Michael Lloyd & Michael Desmond European and American Paintings and Sculptures 1870-1970 in the Australian National Gallery 1992 p.173.
Original artwork provenance: National Gallery of Australia
All images: © 2012 C. Herscovici, Brussels / ADAGP, Paris
|Dimensions||40 x 60 cm|
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