Rene Magritte (1898 - 1967) 

threatened assassin

The Threatened Assassin (1926-27) is derived from a scene in Louis Feuillade's 1912  film, Fantomas . The film, was based on the thirty-two-volume series written by Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain, each of whom wrote alternate chapters. Magritte was fascinated by the character of Fantômas who can pass unseen through matter, defy the establishment, and undermine order.

We see two figures concealed by the doorway, armed with odd weapons, watching or waiting for the murderer who is playing the phonograph. Three more suited men stare into the room where the dead mannequin/woman lies.

David Sylvester, Magritte's biographer, suggests that this painting was scripted from a set of violent and erotic poems by Paul Nouge finally published in 1956. The poems were written circa 1926-1927 when both Magritte and Nouge were working together designing catalogues for Samuels, a fur company. Here are some of the poetry lines:

Four heads stare at the murderer.*
In the corridor on either side of the wide open door,
Two men are approaching unable as yet to discern the spectacle.
They are ugly customers.
Crouching, they hug the wall.
One of them unfurls a huge net, the other brandishing a club.
All this will be called, "The Threatened Murderer."
                                         - Paul Nouge

* Is the fourth behind the murderer's shoulder?


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