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René Magritte’s under-painting discovered by researchers at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium


Researchers at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (RMFAB) in Brussels reportedly discovered an underpainting from René Magritte’s The Fifth Season painted in 1943.


Surrealist artist René Magritte died in 1967 and is known for his illusional paintings that challenge the authority of words and images – one example is his 1929 painting, The Treachery of Images, which wrote the famous phrase “This is not a pipe” in French under a painted object appearing to be a pipe.


RMFAB’s study examined 50 of Magritte paintings created between 1921 and 1967, with the Getty Conservation Institute verifying the findings.

In the examination of The Fifth Season using infrared Reflectography, researchers Catherine Defeyt and Francisca Vandepitte discovered another portrait of a woman underneath the painting.


For many artists in their early careers, such as Pablo Picasso, a contemporary of Magritte’s, double-painting or even multiple-painting was normal practice to save on canvas use due to financial difficulties.


Read also: “Françoise Gilot, School of Paris artist and Picasso’s muse, dies at 101”


The object in the double-painted portrait is believed to be Georgette Magritte, Magritte’s wife and his muse who appeared in many of the artist’s works and donated a total of seven Magritte paintings to RMFAB, where The Magritte Museum is located.


The analysis of the aforementioned double-painting, alongside other study findings, will be published in a book that will be available in mid-August titled René Magritte: The Artist’s Materials.