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

1893, Vuillard Warhol, 1986 Andre, 1993 1808, Trumbull

Upcoming Events

Apr
12
Sat
all-day 41st Hartford Youth Art Renaissance
41st Hartford Youth Art Renaissance
Apr 12 – May 18 all-day
41st Hartford Youth Art Renaissance
Hartford Youth Art Renaissance, 2013 41st Hartford Youth Art Renaissance: Celebrate the 41st anniversary of the museum’s partnership with the Hartford Public School District to [...]
Apr
17
Thu
1:00 pm Tour: Highlights
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Apr 17 @ 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 [...]
Apr
18
Fri
1:00 pm Tour: Highlights
Tour: Highlights
Apr 18 @ 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 [...]
Apr
19
Sat
1:00 pm CANCELED: Homeschoolers’ Series: An Introduction to Teaching Core Subjects through the Visual Arts
CANCELED: Homeschoolers’ Series:…
Apr 19 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
CANCELED: Saturday Homeschoolers’ Series: An Introduction to Teaching Core Subjects through the Visual Arts: Part three of a professional development series aimed at training homeschooling [...]
1:00 pm Tour: Highlights
Tour: Highlights
Apr 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 [...]

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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