Originally from Hainaut, René Magritte (1898-1967) spent most of his life in Brussels. In 1930, he and his wife, muse and model Georgette (née Berger) took a lease on this Jette apartment. Here, Magritte set about trying to make a name for himself as an artist, though he initially also had to support himself through advertising work. Over the course of the next two decades he would begin some of his most successful experiments, during what has become known as his 'Renoir period' as well as the 'Vache period', a collaboration with his friend Louis Scutenaire (1905-1987). Paintings such as L'empire des lumières (1949), the series based on 'La condition humaine' (1933, 1935) and La durée poignardée (1938) also date from his tenure in this house. As part of his surrealist project, he frequently borrowed details from the house to act as 'familiar objects' in these paintings, including sash windows, fireplaces and stairs. He also hosted salons for Surrealist colleagues in the dining room every weekend.
After the Magrittes left the house in 1954, it was taken on by a number of further tenants. Finally, in 1993, it was purchased by the newly-created 'Musée René Magritte' with the intention of establishing a museum in the building. It opened to the public in 1999, having been restored to its former appearance with the aid of original photographs, historical testimonials and the auction records of Magritte's possessions sold at Sotheby's on 1986. The museum also holds and preserves archive material relating to Magritte's life and work, including oil paintings and manuscripts.
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