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The Active Voice

René Magritte, Belgian, 1898–1967
Oil on canvas
Current Location
On View, Gallery 210
39 1/2 × 31 1/2 in. (100.3 × 80 cm)
framed: 40 1/4 × 32 7/16 × 1 1/2 in. (102.2 × 82.4 × 3.8 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Pulitzer Jr.
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY/ADAGP, Paris
Object Number
Precisely depicted in shades of gray and taupe, an isolated stone hovers before a solid orange background. Without other objects to reference for scale, it is impossible to know whether this rock is a tiny pebble or a massive boulder. René Magritte, a prominent member of the Surrealist movement, painted disorienting and dreamlike subjects in a style of meticulous realism. The artist’s choice of title here may be an ironic play on the pervasive sense of silence in this painting.
before 1960
Alexander Iolas Gallery [1]

- 1960
Collection of Joseph Pulitzer, Jr. and Louise Vauclain Pulitzer.

1960 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, gift of Joseph Pulitzer, Jr. and Louise Vauclain Pulitzer [2]

[1] The Accession Record lists Alexander Iolas Gallery under History and Former Collections [SLAM document file]. A sticker on the painting's stretcher, also recorded on the Accession Record, is from the Alexander Iolas Gallery. Although neither note lists the location of the Gallery (Iolas had galleries in New York, Paris, Milan, and Geneva), letters from Magritte to Iolas in 1950 and 1951 indicate that the artist was shipping works to the dealer in New York at the Hugo Gallery. [Letters published in Abadie, Daniel (editor). 2003. "Magritte." New York: D.A.P. 270-273.]

[2] Deed of gift, dated January 11, 1960 [SLAM document files] and Minutes of the Administrative Board of Control and Advisory Committee, January 7, 1960.
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