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This work is made from a commercial plaster reproduction of the death mask of the French Emperor Napoleon. Magritte painted at least five of these casts, each with sky and clouds. Discussing the works, the artist’s friend the Surrealist poet Paul Nougé suggested an association between death, dreams and the depth of the sky. He commented: ‘a patch of sky traversed by clouds and dreams [can] transfigure the very face of death in a totally unexpected way’.

December 2005