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

Gursky, 2000 Morris, 1978 Wesselmann, 1965 Bey, 1996

Upcoming Events

Aug
30
Sat
1:00 pm Tour: Highlights
Tour: Highlights
Aug 30 @ 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 [...]
2:30 pm Tour: Portraiture in the Collection
Tour: Portraiture in the Collection
Aug 30 @ 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Tour: Portraiture in the Collection: Free with admission, meet outside the Museum Shop.
Aug
31
Sun
1:00 pm Tour: Highlights
Tour: Highlights
Aug 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 [...]
2:30 pm Tour: Portraiture in the Collection
Tour: Portraiture in the Collection
Aug 31 @ 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Tour: Portraiture in the Collection: Free with admission, meet outside the Museum Shop.
Sep
3
Wed
1:00 pm Tour: Highlights
Tour: Highlights
Sep 3 @ 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