Modern and Contemporary Art
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Full-size image not available for download. Please contact Rights and Reproductions.
Artist: René Magritte, Belgian, 1898–1967

La boîte de Pandore (Pandora’s box)


Oil on canvas

45.4 × 54.9 cm (17 7/8 × 21 5/8 in.)
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. John A. Cook, B.A.1932

The Belgian artist René Magritte is one of the major representatives of European Surrealism. He invented a highly original art of figurative painting, depicting ordinary objects and figures in a realistic way but arranging them in mysterious compositions with enigmatic titles. In this painting, Magritte depicts an urban landscape set against a flamboyant red sky. The back of a male figure, who wears one of Magritte’s characteristic bowler hats, obstructs the view of the scene. The intense red sky and empty street, combined with the presence of the man whose face remains hidden and the presence of a white rose, contribute to the mysterious character of the painting. The title refers to the Greek legend of Pandora, the first woman on earth, who, driven by her curiosity, opened the casket filled by the gods with all the world’s evils, unleashing them upon mankind.

Not on view
20th century

Michel Draguet, El Mundo Invisble de René Magritte, exh. cat. (Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, 2010).

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.