Things to do in Brussels – Tour the René Magritte Museum

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“The real value of art is measured by its capacity for liberating revelation.” 

~René Magritte

Sign Rene Magritte Museum Jette Brussels Belgium

Rene Magritte is one of Belgium’s most famous artists and several of his paintings, such as The Pilgrim and The Son of Man (two works featuring his trademark prop, a black bowler hat) are easily recognizable. Born in Lessines, Belgium, in 1898, Magritte moved to Brussels some 17 years later to attend the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts). After a short time living in Paris, he returned to Brussels where he rented the ground floor of a row house at Rue Esseghem 135, where he would live with his wife Georgette for over 20 years.  Since 1994, the house has been opened to the public as the Musée René Magritte (René Magritte Museum).

Mosaic Rene Magritte Museum Jette Brussels Belgium

Located in the Jette neighborhood, north of Brussels’ city center, the museum offers visitors a look into the life and art of this interesting surrealist painter.

Your tour of the museum takes you through four floors of displays and exhibits; a collection of about 400 archive documents, various objects, photos, and numerous original works.

On the ground floor (a guided tour of which is available upon request), you’ll see the Magritte’s residence, furnished with period pieces and the everyday items that greatly inspired Magritte’s work.

Sitting Room Rene Magritte Museum Jette Brussels Belgium

At the front of the house, you’ll get to look into the sitting room

Stairway in Entrance Hall Rene Magritte Museum Jette Brussels Belgium

and while standing near the stairway, which features prominently in several of Magritte’s paintings,

Bedroom Rene Magritte Museum Jette Brussels Belgium

peek into the couple’s bedroom (notice the Pomeranian on the bed, similar to the beloved pet Magritte reportedly had preserved).

Magritte's Dining Room Studio Rene Magritte Museum Jette Brussels Belgium

At the back of the house, you’ll see the dining room/in-house studio complete with art supplies, an original photograph taken by the artist’s friend Man Ray,

Bowler Hat and Umbrella Rene Magritte Museum Jette Brussels Belgium

and in the hallway, a bowler hat, umbrella, and walking sticks similar to those that appear in several of Magritte’s paintings.

Kitchen Rene Magritte Museum Jette Brussels Belgium

Stepping outside you’ll catch a glimpse through the windows of the kitchen

Bathroom Rene Magritte Museum Jette Brussels Belgium

and indoor bathroom.

Studio Dongo Rene Magritte Museum Jette Brussels Belgium

And, at the end of the garden, the freestanding building that was home to Studio Dongo, Magritte’s advertising agency.

The upper floors of the museum serve as a gallery for permanent and temporary exhibits. Here you can wander about at your leisure to study the various displays.

Photos and Sketches Rene Magritte Museum Jette Brussels Belgium

The permanent display, part of the museum’s ‘biographical exhibit’ contains an interesting collection of items, including personal correspondence, telegrams, drawings, watercolors, and art supplies, journals, manuscripts, photographs

Camera Collection Rene Magritte Museum Jette Brussels Belgium

and cameras, objects and curiosities such as a pipe, skull, and a mannequin (painted by Magritte to resemble fellow surrealist painter Salvador Dalí), and one of Magritte’s earliest paintings – a landscape with windmill, created when he was 11 years old.

At the time of our visit, the gallery’s temporary exhibition featured a collection of The Lost Magrittes. These canvases (30 in all) created by various artists with the help of archive records and personal recollections are recreations of Magritte paintings lost or destroyed.

Lost Magrittes Legend Rene Magritte Museum Jette Brussels Belgium

A legend included with the display lists six ways in which the paintings were lost or destroyed; during the Blitz of London in 1940, by fire in various locations, painted over by the artist himself, during the process of kamagraphy (a method of making reproductions), lost at sea, or wall murals subsequently demolished.

During his time in residence here from 1930 to 1954, Magritte would create a large portion of his work (almost half of the paintings and gouaches), experimenting with color and form, the results of which would be some of his greatest surrealist masterpieces.  Among them:

La condition humaine (The Human Condition), 1933 and 1935

La durée poignardée (Time Transfixed), 1938

L’empire des lumières (Empire of Lights), 1953-1954

And, it was here, in the 1940s, that he developed his ‘Sunlit period’, influenced by impressionist painter Auguste Renoir, creating such works as:

Le premier jour (The First Day), 1943

Le Sourire (The Smile), 1943

Followed just a few years later by his ‘periode vache’ or ‘Fauvist’ style producing several oil paintings and gouaches, including:

La Famine (Famine), 1948

Lola de Valence, 1948

René Magritte died in 1967 and is buried in Brussels.  Georgette Berger Magritte died in 1986.

Getting there:

René Magritte (House) Museum is located at 135 rue Esseghem.  Get there by Metro (Line 6: Pannenhuis).

Ticket Info:

Adult Admission = 7.50€

FREE with the Brussels Card.

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  1. By Things to do in Brussels – Tour the Ren&e... 24 Aug ’15 at 7:14 pm

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