In Empire of Light
, numerous versions of which exist, a dark, nocturnal street scene is set against a pastel-blue, light-drenched sky spotted with fluffy cumulus clouds. With no fantastic
element other than the single paradoxical combination of day and night, René Magritte upsets a fundamental organizing premise of life. Sunlight, ordinarily the source of clarity, here causes the
confusion and unease traditionally associated with darkness. The luminosity of the sky becomes unsettling, making the empty darkness below even more impenetrable than it would seem in a normal
context. The bizarre subject is treated in an impersonal, precise style, typical of veristic Surrealist painting and preferred by Magritte since the mid-1920s.