Rene Magritte (1898 - 1967)
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.*
* Is the fourth behind the murderer's shoulder?