The photo on the left was taken in the front room of Rene Magritte's house in Brussels. Visiting the house where the Belgian Surrealist worked and lived for 24 years was the highlight of our trip.
The painting on the right shows how he used objects from his home in his compositions. You can see how he transformed the fireplace heater into a locomotive train. That is the same mirror above the fireplace only larger and without John's reflection. That in itself was a happy accident. Rather surreal, don't you think?
To the right of the fireplace hangs a portrait of his wife, Georgette. He was inspired to paint this from Manet's Olympia http://locus.cwrl.utexas.edu/jbrown/files/Olympia.jpg . Originally he had painted a frog resting on her stomach, evidently she was not pleased. This may explain the reason why we now see a conch shell in its place.
Magritte was an interesting character and loved the idea of shocking his viewers. He stated that the images in his paintings concealed nothing. He was more concerned with achieving a sense of mystery. You really experience a sense of other worldliness when you look at his work.
I love the fact that he lived so modestly in such a small house; there were only three rooms. He produced over 600 paintings from his tiny kitchen. I wonder if he ever thought that someday people would tour his home. But like most of his imagery, I will have to keep wondering.
Seeing the environment of a famous artist always adds to that ineffable mystery. His paintings become even more mysterious knowing that he said that mystery meant nothing because it was unknowable.