Fourth missing piece of Magritte painting found

By Danielle Haynes Follow @DanielleHaynes1 Contact the Author   |  Nov. 15, 2017 at 6:15 PM
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Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Researchers announced they found the fourth and final puzzle piece explaining the disappearance of a missing painting by surrealist artist Rene Magritte -- underneath another artwork in Brussels.

The missing painting, The Enchanted Pose, disappeared in 1932 with only a black-and-white photograph of the artwork to prove its existence. The artwork depicts two nude women leaning against two broken columns.

After 80 years, museum officials finally know where the entire painting is. The artist, perhaps best known for his portraits of faceless men wearing bowler hats, had cut up the original artwork and painted over the four smaller pieces.

A team of researchers from University of Liege in Wallonia, Belgium, and the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium made the final discovery using scientific imaging that left the more recent painting undamaged. Similar technology was used to find the other three pieces in previous years.

"This discovery demonstrates, once again, the considerable contribution of scientific analysis and imaging methods to the knowledge of a painter and his work," said Francisca Vandepitte, curator of the modern art department at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium.

The first piece, the top-right corner of the larger painting, was found in 2013 behind The Portrait at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

The second piece, in the bottom-left, is behind The Red Model in Modern Museet in Stockholm.

The third piece, in the bottom-right corner, was found in 2016 in a painting called The Human Condition at the Norwich Castle Museum in Britain.

The fourth and final piece, discovered this year, is behind a painting of a bird on a shoe called God is Not a Saint at the Magritte Museum, which is part of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium.

"If we have the opportunity to continue this research, it is reasonable to expect that more of Magritte's missing paintings will surface," said Michel Draguet, general director of the Belgium museum.

A news release from University of Liege on Tuesday said Magritte was in the habit of recycling frames from his own paintings. It is believed he cut up The Enchanted Pose due to financial hardship during the 1930s, a time of economic instability throughout parts of the world.

"I think he destroyed this painting because he was in a deep economic crisis. It was the late twenties or early thirties so he was coming back from Paris with no money at all. He was really recycling his old paintings, the ones that he felt not so confident or happy with so he has cut this one in four parts," said David Strivay, professor at the University of Liege.

Samir al-Haddad, a representative of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, told BBC News the four institutions that hold the four paintings are discussing opportunities to bring them together for public viewing.

Magritte died in 1967 at the age of 68. The Magritte Museum in Brussels, has some 200 paintings, drawings and sculptures by the artist.

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