Belgian Surrealist René Magritte developed a repertoire of private symbols that he continued to employ in new combinations throughout his career. The bloodied white plaster bust first appeared in a painting of 1942 entitled Memory. It was accompanied by the ball, a wooden wall, and a cloud filled sky. In this treatment from 1950 the haunting bare tree has been added. The original French title was taken from Proust by the painter’s friend the writer, Paul Nougé, who also provided the following poetic interpretation:

As walls recede, as daylight recedes, as palpable shadows recede, as the music of the branches and of inevitable mental tracery recedes, as youth recedes, our memory bleeds and smiles.

The painting was purchased in New York in 1951 by the great choreographer George Balanchine and his wife the dancer, Tanaquil Le Clercq. It is fitting that they have donated it to the Wadsworth Atheneum, since it was through the efforts of this museum’s director, A. Everett “Chick” Austin, Jr., that Balanchine was able to come to America in 1933 with the hope of founding a new ballet company in Hartford. Although this was not to be, Balanchine did present the premiers of several of his works in the Atheneum’s theater in 1934.

René Magritte
Belgian, 1898–1967
The Fickleness of the Heart, 1950
Oil on canvas; 32 x 25 in.
Gift of Tanaquil Le Clercq and George Balanchine, 1998.48.1.

From Our Collection

D'Arcangelo, 1963 Pollock, 1952 1925, Miró Downing, 1966

Upcoming Events

Jul
31
Thu
1:00 pm Tour: Highlights
Tour: Highlights
Jul 31 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Tour: Highlights: Join a docent for an exploration of the collection. Meet by The Museum Shop. Highlights Tours are offered daily at 1 pm, Wednesday [...]
7:00 pm Film: Of Horses and Men
Film: Of Horses and Men
Jul 31 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Film: Of Horses and Men
Film: Of Horses and Men: A quirky comedic drama about the human streak in the horse and the horse in the human. 2013. Iceland. 81 [...]
8:30 pm Film: Lovely Louise
Film: Lovely Louise
Jul 31 @ 8:30 pm – 10:30 pm
Film: Lovely Louise
Film: Lovely Louise: In this comedic drama, a 55 year-old man leads a boring life with his 80 year-old mother, who tells him she gave [...]
Aug
1
Fri
12:00 pm Gallery Talk: Art Traffic
Gallery Talk: Art Traffic
Aug 1 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Gallery Talk: Art Traffic
Allan D’Arcangelo, Here and now, 1963, liquitex on canvas with mirror Gallery Talk: Art Traffic: Edd Russo, Head Registrar, and Mary Busick, Registrar for Loans [...]
1:00 pm Tour: Highlights
Tour: Highlights
Aug 1 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Tour: Highlights: Join a docent for an exploration of the collection. Meet by The Museum Shop. Highlights Tours are offered daily at 1 pm, Wednesday [...]

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Hours & Admission

Hours:
Wednesday – Friday: 11 am – 5 pm
Saturday & Sunday: 10 am – 5 pm
First Thursdays: 11 am – 8 pm

Admission:
Members: Free
Adults: $10
Seniors (age 62+): $8
Students (age 13 & over or with college ID): $5
Children (age 12 & under): Free
First Thursdays (from 5-8 pm): $5