The odd story behind Magritte’s castle in the air painting

Harry Torczyner was a attorney with unconventional flavor. His New York business had a window struggling with an unsightly building, and he made a decision the greatest way to mask the offensive perspective would be to inquire 1 of his customers to paint a thing to deal with it. The shopper was René Magritte. The surreal portray that emerged from this odd ask for was The Castle of the Pyrenees (1959).

Torczyner had commissioned a portrait of himself from Magritte the previous year. This time close to, he experienced less stipulations about the subject. In a letter that will be on show in the exhibition Drifting with Magritte at Jerusalem’s Israel Museum, Torczyner wrote: “May I convey a mystery desire that this painting stand for a novel path which the Grasp would merrily enterprise on, recognizing that he has to please no a person but himself and that it is in his absolute discretion to be indiscreet.”

Using this liberal imaginative license, Magritte created three preparatory sketches with diverse alternatives and Torczyner picked one particular wherever an tremendous boulder crowned with a castle floats higher than a choppy sea. He then exercised patron’s privilege and asked that the background be “the sky of a clear day, like the sky in your Empire of Mild”.

Magritte’s Empire of Gentle collection of 17 paintings (1948-67) bearing the very same title—in which a pale daytime sky contrasts impossibly with a darkish nocturnal scene—made headlines previous month when a 1961 variation broke the artist’s auction report at Sotheby’s London and bought for £59.4m with fees. Each this operate and Castle of the Pyrenees encapsulate the Belgian Surrealist’s reward for conjuring unbelievable circumstances that however seem eerily reasonable.

Castle of the Pyrenees was eradicated from the window frame of Torczyner’s place of work in 1985, when the attorney gave it to Israel Museum for its 20th anniversary. It has been prominently exhibited there ever due to the fact, but this exhibition revisits the collection’s spotlight and tells its tale from inception to the modern day artists it has influenced.

Drifting with Magritte: Castles in the Air, Israel Museum, Jersusalem, until 18 Oct