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Answered 2011-04-06 00:43:20
A Contemplation of Magritte's Le mal 'du pays: Homesickness by Richard MattesonMagritte originally thought of calling this 1940 painting Menopause (a period of depression) but his final title is Le Mal du Pays (Homesickness).

This is clearly one of Magritte's most emotionally honest paintings and instead of giving the painting one of his whimsical surreal titles like "Waiting for the Pea-Souper" (a title proposed by one of his friends that Rene considered but rejected), he chose the title that reflected how he felt...how he was lost...how he wished he could go home.

In May 1940 his home was invaded by the Nazi during World War II and Magritte fled with his close friends Paul Eluard and Scutenaire. It would be easy to assume then that this painting was about the German occupation of Belgium and Magritte's homesickness about having to flee the country he loved. Certainly this is an emotional component of the painting but there's much more.

What is homesickness for Rene Magritte? The yearning for home is one of the strongest human desires. Home for many people represents safety or freedom from concern, of being a child again- protected by your parents. Home is a place you belong and with every fiber of your being you wish you could return. By returning to your earliest thoughts, to the womb, you could escape the fears and torments of life.

Magritte, as we all do had this powerful yearning for home. His home life was not easy- in fact he didn't want to talk about it. He moved frequently with his two brothers when he was very young. Then when he was just 13 his mother committed suicide, drowning herself in the Sambre River. As a child becoming a young man, this was not easy.

For he was the eldest and I'm sure felt some responsibility. After all, when a parent commits suicide the children blame themselves. It was somehow Rene's fault, he didn't know why...he did have a reputation as being a little hellion, of being the difficult child. I'm sure at that moment, everything he did wrong began to haunt him. Later, because he could represent his subconscious mind in his art, his mother's suicide became manifest in his painting.

Magritte's father died in 1928 of Diabetes leaving Rene without parents. He was alone except for his loving wife, Georgette. They were living in the suburbs of Paris at the time. Soon they too would become homesick and and after a three year sojourn to Paris, the Magritte's came home to Brussels where they could be near their remaining family members.

Six or seven years later Rene Magritte's life started to change. Leaving his happy home in Brussels, he went on his trips to London to visit Edward James and ELT Mesens to prepare for his exhibitions. During that time Rene became involved with the young surrealist model known as the "Surrealist Phantom" of 1936, the artist Sheila Legg, who posed for surrealist events with Dali and others and was one of the most photographed surrealist woman at the time. According to one source: "Magritte, in fact, fell in love with her."

Magritte did not want to hurt Georgette or arouse her suspicions, so he arranged for his friend, Paul Colinet (1898-1957) a Belgian surrealist poet, to spend time with Georgette so she would be safe... a little too safe as it turned out. While Magritte was away Georgette and Paul Colinet became romantically involved. Georgette at one point asked Rene for a divorce.

So Rene Magritte fled Brussels and his marital problems for France in May 1940, five days after German troops invaded Belgium and Holland. Georgette did not go with him. Rene spent three months in Carcassonne, France, with Paul Eluard and Scutenaire.

The painting Homesickness features a forlorn Magritte as an angel leaning over a bridge contemplating the river, perhaps thinking of suicide. It reminds me of Jimmy Steward in It's A Wonderful Life standing on a bridge over the icy water with no reason to live. Magritte had the courage and honesty to paint himself, on the edge... on the brink of catastrophe. He was losing the two things he most valued in his life...his wife Georgette and his home.

What about the lion? The lion is hard to overlook. Curiously the "king of the jungle" is not threatening or menacing and looks away disinterested. Clearly the lion represents Georgette, and perhaps Magritte never understood this himself. The two are separated, not interested in each other, while Magritte contemplates his sorrow and pain.

He truly has lost his home, his true love and the love of his life. When conditions allowed, Magritte returned to Brussels and reconciled with Georgette. At this point Magritte became depressed and experimented with different style perhaps to escape his emotional demons. The 1940s was a time of change; in order to show the 'bright side of life', Magritte changed his style and began to paint impressionistic paintings inspired by Renoir. Later in 1948 he began his Vache period, partially as a reaction to the French artistic society who Rene felt rejected him.

Much of the change of the 1940s can be seen in his painting Homesickness, a painting that showed with great courage the his depression over the very real threat of losing his family and home.

He truly has lost his home, his true love and the love of his life. When conditions allowed, Magritte returned to Brussels and reconciled with Georgette. At this point Magritte became depressed and experimented with different style perhaps to escape his emotional demons. The 1940s was a time of change; in order to show the 'bright side of life', Magritte changed his style and began to paint impressionistic paintings inspired by Renoir. Later in 1948 he began his Vache period, partially as a reaction to the French artistic society who Rene felt rejected him.

Much of the change of the 1940s can be seen in his painting, Homesickness, a painting that showed with great courage his depression over the very real threat of losing his family and home.

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Related Questions

When was Rene Magritte's 'Homesickness' painting made?

In 1940.


What museum shows Rene Magritte's Homesickness painting?

It is owned by a gallery in Brussels.


What was Rene Magrittes birthday?

21 November 1898


What is Rene magrittes parents names?

Father: Léopold MagritteMother: Adeline Magritte


How did Rene Magritte's mother die?

rene magrittes mother committed suicide in the river sambre i think the reason why she committed suicide because of depression


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Rene Magritte's favorite painting was the Gonconda.


What is Rene Magrittes best work?

Click the link below, where you will find a multitude of Magritte's paintings. Then choose your own favorite!


What is Rene Magritte's painting style?

Rene Magritte is a surrealist painter


What stage of Rene Magrittes artwork 'The Rape' does it represent?

The painting is fairly early on in his career as a painter, circa 1934, but Magritte is definitely a Surrealist, and it is sometimes difficult to tell his earlier work from some of the later pieces. An interesting essay on the work can be found at the link below.


What are some paintings that Rene Magritte did?

Homesickness-1940 Clairvoyance-1936 Le beau monde-1962 Reproduction Prohibited-1937


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His painting was. But as a person he was not.


How did Rene magritte become famous?

by painting


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Rene Magritte was a business manager in a theatre in London before he started painting.


What movement was Rene Magritte's painting Portrait classified as?

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What is the painting named that a man with a green apple?

It was Rene Magritte oil painting, titled "Son of Man


If the painting This is not a pipe is not a pipe what is it then?

Rene Magritte meant that it is an image of a pipe .


Which painting inspired Rene Magritte supposedly moving him to tears?

Love Song


What about homesickness?

nostalgia


How much is Rene Magritte painting?

It is hard to answer this question, Each of his painting is various, different period works also various on price. By the way, is it signed?


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It is 73x100cm.


What do you like about 'The False Mirror' painting by Rene Magritte?

The important thing is what YOU like.


What is the apple painting by Rene margritte called?

The son of Man was the one with the apple covering his face.


What was the subject of Rene Magritte's paintings?

because painting is super fun just like in the ancient


What is the antonym of homesickness?

homefree


What rhymes with homesickness?

bomesickness