Rene Francois Ghislain Magritte was a surrealist painter, born in Lessines, Belgium. He studied at the Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts, in Brussels. His first one-man exhibition was in Brussels in 1927. At that time Magritte had already begun to paint in the style, closely akin to surrealism, that was predominant throughout his long career.
A meticulous, skillful technician, he is noted for works that contain an extraordinary juxtaposition of ordinary objects or an unusual context that gives new meaning to familiar things. This juxtaposition is frequently termed magic realism, of which Magritte was the prime exponent.
In addition to fantastic elements, he displayed a mordant wit, creating surrealist versions of famous paintings, as in Madame Recamier de David (1949, private collection), in which an elaborate coffin is substituted for the reclining woman in the famous portrait by Jacques Louis David.
Magritte's work was first shown in the United States in New York City in 1936 and again in that city in two retrospectives, one at the Museum of Modern Art in 1965 (U.S. tour, 1966), and the other at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1992.