In 1937 James is 30 years old. Dali introduces him to Magritte. Their connivance is immediate and perfect. Magritte proposes to make two surrealist portraits of his new patron.
Magritte sends a preparatory drawing to his model. He has chosen the theme of the portrait whose head is entirely replaced by a dazzling light. To make sure of James' enthusiasm, Magritte asks him to take care of the photographic preparation in the pose that matches the drawing. James has the picture taken by Man Ray.
On November 12 in New York, Sotheby's sells this portrait of James by Magritte, oil on canvas 73 x 55 cm painted in 1937, lot 35 estimated $ 15M. Magritte has friendly chosen a Freudian title, Le Principe du Plaisir. The outline of the head is embedded in a halo that makes the image even more laudative.
The provenance testifies to the lasting success of this portrait. It belonged to James and then to his foundation until 1978 and remained in another collection since 1979.
The second portrait, also painted in 1937, is titled La Reproduction Interdite. It is another development of the theme of the visible and the hidden. James looks at himself in a large mirror in which his reflection is seen from behind.
Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's.
SOLD for $ 27M including premium