René Magritte’s “Empire of Lights” is on display for the first time at Sotheby’s in London. The painting was painted in 1961 by Baroness Anne-Marie Jeon Crowe, who appears in many of Magritte’s works.
The painting has remained in the Kruye family’s collection since then, and will be displayed next March for $60 million, as the main work at Sotheby’s auction of modern and contemporary art.
Helena Neumann, Sotheby’s Europe Chairman and Global Head of Impressionist and Modern Art, said: “The Empire of Lights combines the two most essential elements of daily life, day and night, and cinematic painting with its distinguished scale draws the viewer into the immortal world of Magritte, and embodies its message. directness and its power (the core of outstanding works), to elevate him to the most sought-after group of artists in the market, and we are thrilled to start the new year with this amazing work in London.”
Anne-Marie embodied the idea of Magritte’s ideal of beauty even before he met her, and unexpectedly found her likeness in a number of his completed works before their first meeting, when he famously said to her: ‘You see, I painted you before I met you’. Anne subsequently became a lifelong friend to Magritte and his wife, Georgette, and appeared in many of his most important paintings.
The “Empire of Lights” has been exhibited around the world and was loaned to the Magritte Museum in Brussels from 2009 to 2020, when it was surrounded by the world’s finest collection of Magritte paintings. The painting is on public display before auction at Sotheby’s in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, New York and London.