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

Pollock, 1952 1833, Corot 1860, Pena 1881, Church

Upcoming Events

Sep
19
Fri
12:00 pm Gallery Talk: The Intriguing Medium of Rock
Gallery Talk: The Intriguing Med…
Sep 19 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Gallery Talk: The Intriguing Medium of Rock
Albert Bierstadt, In the Mountains, 1867, oil on canvas Gallery Talk: The Intriguing Medium of Rock: Take a closer look at Carl Andre’s Stone Field [...]
1:00 pm Tour: Highlights
Tour: Highlights
Sep 19 @ 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: Middle of Nowhere
Film: Middle of Nowhere
Sep 19 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Film: Middle of Nowhere
Film: Middle of Nowhere: When her husband is sentenced to eight years in prison, a woman drops out of medical school in order to focus [...]
Sep
20
Sat
all-day Envisionfest Community Day: The View from Here
Envisionfest Community Day: The …
Sep 20 all-day
Envisionfest Community Day: The View from Here
Envisionfest Community Day: The View from Here: Explore a new point of view at the third annual Envisionfest Hartford – a citywide family-friendly festival that [...]
1:00 pm Tour: Highlights
Tour: Highlights
Sep 20 @ 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 [...]

View Calendar

 

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