|Courtesy of www.ReneMagritte.org|
In 1962 Magritte painted a gouche and an oil of his Domain of Arnheim based on Edgar Allen Poe's story "The Domain of Arnheim:"
[From Poe:] "...no such combination of scenery exists in nature as the painter of genius may produce. No such paradises are to be found in reality as have glowed on the canvas of Claude. In the most enchanting of natural landscapes there will always be found a defect or an excess - many excesses and defects. While the component parts may defy, individually, the highest skill of the artist, the arrangement of these parts will always be susceptible of improvement. In short, no position can be attained on the wide surface of the natural earth, from which an artistical eye, looking steadily, will not find matter of offence in what is termed the 'composition' of the landscape. And yet how unintelligible is this! In all other matters we are justly instructed to regard nature as supreme. With her details we shrink from competition. Who shall presume to imitate the colours of the tulip, or to improve the proportions of the lily of the valley?"
The Domain of Arnheim may be Poe's greatest story. Poe himself held it in high esteem. He wrote, " 'The Domain of Arnheim' expresses much of my soul."
To Magritte The Domain of Arnheim represented the ideal landscape as expressed by Poe. Magritte also used the granite eagle on the mountain ridge in others works with different titles. The image of the mountain shaped like an eagle predates the "Domain of Arnheim" images, first appearing in "Le precurseur" (1936). The catalogue raisonne says, "The mountain may well have been based upon the upper two-thirds of a color reproduction of a photograph found among Magritte's papers, something he certainly handled, as it bears a drawing by him on the verso."