The Empire of Lights (1954) by Rene Magritte

The Empire of Lights - Rene Magritte - 1954

Artwork Information

TitleThe Empire of Lights
ArtistRene Magritte
MediumOil on Canvas
Art MovementSurrealism
Current LocationRoyal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels, Belgium
Location Created Brussels, Belgium

About The Empire of Lights

“The Empire of Lights,” painted by Rene Magritte in 1954, is an oil on canvas distinguished by its use within the Surrealist art movement. It is a landscape genre artwork that is currently located at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels, Belgium. The creation of this artwork can also be traced back to Brussels, where the artist conceived and brought it into existence.

The artwork presents a scene of captivating paradox; it depicts a house in a setting that simultaneously conveys both night and day. A darkened and seemingly quiet street is illuminated by a solitary lamppost whose light reflects off what appears to be a gentle body of water in the foreground. Despite the darkness that shrouds the house, the daytime sky above is clear and bright, dotted with fluffy clouds. Dominating the composition and creating a vertical divide is a tall and leafy tree that soars into the paradoxical sky, further deepening the surrealistic juxtaposition. The serene and quiet atmosphere combined with the disorienting blend of day and night encapsulates Magritte’s mastery in merging reality with dream-like elements to challenge the perceptions of the viewer. The artwork confronts the onlooker’s sense of temporal understanding, making them question the distinction between the different times of day and the nature of light itself.

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