Magritte Surrealism Leads the Main Auction Houses’ Sales

Magritte Works Will Lead Surrealism Sales Presented at Sotheby’s and Christie’s and Will Take Place in Paris, Early April.

Mar 17, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
The music lesson, Magritte Surrealism
The music lesson painting


Magritte Vermeer-dedicated painting is the most significant part of the Sotheby’s auction, named “Surrealism and its Legacy”. Overall, as we can see, Sotheby’s wants to get the best out of Surrealism as a direction in art. Also, to emphasize the heritage of this direction, as well as the artists of that era. René Magritte‘s “The Music Lesson” painting will lead this sale.


Magritte Surrealism Sotheby’s Sale Dedicated to Vermeer

Sotheby's 2023 Auction, Magritte Surrealism
Sotheby’s auctioneer during the March 2 ‘Now’ Evening sale in London.


The painting of the Belgian surrealist has the same name as Vermeer’s painting, “The music lesson”. Not only do they have the same name, but Margette’s painting represents a dedication and pays him respect. The auction will occur in March 15, with expectations for the painting to fetch between $2.5 million-$3.8 million.

Magritte’s painting has pink canvas, with different shades of the color. Visually, we can see the pink ear, holding the pink bell. The painting spent the past twenty years in the same private Belgian collection, since it’s last Sotheby’s auction in London. A Sotheby’s statement described the “juxtaposition of human flesh with everyday objects”, as the painting’s main draw.


Rene Magritte, La Leçon de Musique
Rene Magritte, La Leçon de Musique (The Music Lesson), 1965. COURTESY SOTHEBY’S.


However, “The music lesson” is not the only Magritte painting that will appear at the auction. That’s where Christie’s comes in. Magritte 1965 painting titled “Les grains de beauté” will appear at this auction house’s sale in Paris next month. The painting is also a part of a one person sale of surrealist piece.

Auction Houses Desparate to Keep Surrealist Momentum

The French Auction Market
Christie’s Paris sale room of the Hubert de Givenchy collection. Photo: © Nina Slavcheva. Courtesy of Christie’s.


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Christie’s expects that “Les grains de beauté” can fetch between $3.2 million-$5.4 million. The painting portrays the fragmentation of a rock-like structure. In addition to this painting, the auction will include eight other works of art. They are all part of Christie’s auction sale named “Wave of Dreams”.


Paris as an art market experienced great growth after the pandemic. A large number of auctions are held in the capital of France in the post-pandemic world. The meeting of the two most famous auction houses in this city is another proof that speaks in favor of its popularity. With this auction Paris could fetch from $12.9 million to $20 million.

Les grains de beauté , ca. 1965
Les grains de beauté , ca. 1965


In order to maintain the momentum created by Surrealist-focused sales in London earlier this month, Sotheby’s and Christie’s are betting on it. The momentum enerated a collective €72 million ($77 million). Other works by Max Ernst, Man Ray, Joan Miró, Francis Picabia, and Yves Tanguey will be offered in the Paris sales.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.