The Son of Man by René Magritte

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The Son of Man by Rene Magritte

Painting NameThe Son of Man
Painter NameRene Magritte
Completion Date1964
Size116 cm × 89 cm (45.67 in × 35 in)
Current LocationPrivate collection

The showcased piece of art is from the Belgian Surrealist artist René Magritte. It was painted in 1964.

It showcases a simple depiction of a person standing. In background is visible sea, cloudy sky and a low, brick wall. The person has worn an overcoat, with red tie and a bowler hat. Thus the whole composition doesn’t include any fancy stuff. Though, the apparent catch is in the face where right in front of the character’s face is a green apple.

As intriguing and unforgivable impact the painting makes on a general audience, the philosophy behind such unique arrangement is also equally interesting.

The Son of Man philosophy and Analysis

Although, most of the artists do not answer in clear way about the motif of the their creations and leaves it up to the viewers to interpret meanings, Rene Magritte has stated clearly about his feat to put an apple in front of the face and he is very clear in his statement:

“At least it hides the face partly. Well, so you have the apparent face, the apple, hiding the visible but hidden, the face of the person. It’s something that happens constantly. Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present.”

So, the essence of the painting is to make us realize the fact that one thing hides another thing. Not only in physical context, but the concept generalizes also in philosophical and every other contexts. Even in general life, where we perceive things clearly has the hidden consequences, which don’t see until they come up right in front of our faces.

Thus, the apparent things we see, and hidden things blocked by the things we see have a deep relation to each other and it depends on the person’s ability of see through situations and reaches to the substantial part. Those would be the wise men of the society. But in general, everybody’s vision is blocked by their own beliefs and mindsets.

The Title

The title of the painting intrigues us to think if it indicates towards the humanity or represents an average person. In both cases, the phrase and the painting fits perfect.

“Son of Man” is also a title of the book comprising Hebrew and Greek phrases from both, Tanakh and New Testament. 

The “Son of Man” is also an expression of Jesus in his sayings. He would say ‘son of man’ to address humanity, instead of picking any particular person.

The oddity

Person’s left hand seems normal at the first glance. Also the fingers and the whole palm is depicted normal. But, the middle section of the arm, the elbow of the left arm is exceptionally protruding towards us. It almost seems like the hand inside sleeve is reverse than normal. There is no clear explanation for such depiction.

The oil on canvas painting has the artist’s signature on lower right corner “Magritte”. It is currently safe in a private collection.


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