How Magritte’s The Son Of Man Showcased Surrealism At Its Finest

The son of man featured image

Curiosity is a driving force for humans! 

It ain’t no physics theory, but it is a theory that was used by the famous Belgian artist René Magritte!

Unlike the anomaly of an artist, this man created a self-portrait full of mystery!

Even though, when taken a look at, this painting does look like it is a painting of an apple, don’t let this thought deceive you!

This René Magritte artwork goes deeper than just a painting with an apple face.

He was among the most famous painter during the period of Surrealism and modern art. 

All the paintings by René Magritte conveyed a deep sense of anonymity and messages that were cryptic for viewers.

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The same goes with this self-portrait of the artist, which left the viewers awestruck and in split reactions!

René titled the painting “The Son of Man’’. Let’s take a look at the process of creating “The Son of Man” by René Magritte.

About René Magritte

About Rene Magritte's the son of man
A cover art which showcases Rene Magritte; Original Image:

A Belgian surrealist artist, who was known as a mysterious painter.

His life and related incidents were often considered scary, hilarious, shocking, and sad.

René’s life was like a roller coaster ride, for which he was often looked down upon.

But bad days don’t last forever, and as soon as his artwork started to rise to fame, his life got much better.

His artwork featured some unsettling characters as well as some that featured him in an elongated manner, as in The Son of Man.

Ironically, he was referred to as a ‘little man’ in real life.

From getting raised by his grandmother to landing his first job as a designer in a factory, he traveled miles to meet his passion for painting.

As a child, Magritte was enthusiastic about the sea and wide skies, which can be seen in his paintings. 

René Magritte’s The Son of Man is one of his most famous creations. 

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History of The Son Of Man

History of the son of man
Rene’s signature bowler hat and coat; Original Image:

A self-portrait, but with no face! Yes, this is René Magritte’s art- The Son of Man!

The Son of Man’s meaning goes way deeper than what it looks like!

The Son of Man, or as known in French by the name, ‘Le fils de I’homme,” It is one of René Magritte’s most famous paintings!

This is one of the most decorated paintings from René Magritte’s Surrealism movement.

René Magritte drew this painting at the request of his friend Harry Torczyner, who was an attorney in New York.

They both shared a beautiful friendship and even wrote letters to each other on a regular basis.

On Harry’s request to get a self-portrait of Rene, he intended to paint a picture for his friend and not do a portrait.

So, he drew more than three paintings, and Son of a Man by Magritte was created, he covered his face with a green apple.

It is also believed that he completed the work on this painting way before he brought it live for the viewers to see it.

There are many speculations about The Son of Man painting, including that it was inspired by the biblical theory of Jesus Christ.

Suggested Read: Famous Paintings Of Jesus

Significance Of The Son Of Man

Significance of the son of man
Compositional view of the painting; Original Image:

René Magritte, in his painting The Son of Man, has experimented with the ideas of the visible and the hidden.

Not only in The Son of Man but in many other paintings by René, the concept of hidden and visible was the main theme.

René quoted The Son of Man by saying, 

“At least it hides the face partially. Well, so you have the apparent face, the apple, hiding the visible but hidden face of the person. It is something that happens constantly. Everything we see hides under another thing, we always want to see what’s hidden under what we see.”

Now you may wonder, “Who is the Son of Man?

Well, as it is stated, this man with an apple painting is René Magritte’s portrait! A self-portrait!

Even though this artwork is said to be influenced by the biblical tale of Jesus Christ’s “Son of Man,” 

But René never agreed with this fact!

Magritte’s paintings used everyday objects with unsettling placements to twist and deceive our perception of what is real and seen.

In many paintings by René, an apple can be seen as a familiar object that he has utilized.

It is also believed that René had drawn the piece of apple to maintain the anonymity of a modern businessman and help him hide his true identity.

This is considered an important part of the surrealism movement because he displayed a very deep message through The Son of Man.

Also, he had raised a curiosity in the viewer’s mind by hiding more than portraying.

People are so tempted by the concept of this painting that it is almost impossible for them to get their eyes off this piece of art.

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Analysis of the Composition

René Magritte has painted this composition with perfection, and it also denotes that not everything is as you see it!

Now you might be wondering about the Son of Man painting’s meaning!

This painting also depicts how a man gets impatient and curious when the information given is limited.

In the Son of Man painting, René showcases the man standing upright and facing the audience.

On a closer look, we can also notice that the left arm of the man in the painting is twisted and facing the ocean.

In the background, we can clearly see the ocean, which is surprisingly calm with no tides or waves.

The sky is cloudy as well, which makes the whole painting seem gloomy.

It can rain anytime soon! This is what René had portrayed in the gloomy weather.

The man in the painting is supposed to be René himself, as he is sporting his classic bowler hat and a large gray coat.

He is also wearing a red tie and white shirt underneath the coat, which indicates that the muse is ready to be portrayed in style.

This painting represents the concept of the visible and the hidden with perfection.

It means that whether what we see is real or just a matter of thought process, in this painting, the man can be seen standing with his back to the ocean.

There are three major subjects in this painting and they are, an apple, a mystery man, and a bowler hat.

The Son of Man is not only a masterpiece from René’s surrealism era, but it also emphasizes the fact that not everything has to be perfect.

And the things that aren’t portrayed are the things that raise curiosity in the viewer’s mind.

Suggested Read: Famous Realism Paintings

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Reactions Towards This Painting (Reception) 

The cloudy sky, the ocean, the apple, and the mysterious guy!

Whenever you take a look at this painting, it makes sure to leave you awestruck with the details and the depth in which it stands. 

Now housed in an anonymous private collection, the days when The Son of Man was made live for viewers faced mixed reactions!

People claimed that Rene had some hidden secrets, they also said that it had something to do with him doing something awful.

That is the reason he covered his face!

Also, when The Son of Man started getting famous among viewers, it inspired many artists to start creating their own kind of surrealist portraits.

The bowler hat and the formal outfit were prominent in René Magritte’s paintings, which also suggested his political interest in the communist party.

All in all, this artwork by René faced its fair share of criticism and appraisal. 

The Son of Man is still one of the most talked about paintings from the Surrealism period.

Surrounded by Theories? 

Surrounded by theories?
Magnifying glass on an image; Original Image:

Even though this painting had its own fan and critic base, this did not stop The Son of Man from getting involved in some serious controversies.

People and viewers often get confused by the fact that what exactly is the backstory and what does Son of Man mean?

So here are some of the theories that revolve around The Son of Man by René Magritte.

Who is the Son of Man?

The Son of Man is a painting that is ironic and mysterious at the same time.

It is because René was commissioned to paint a self-portrait but instead he painted a man who was well-dressed and everything, but alas! He had an apple on his face.

Covered in gloomy clouds and with a dislocated elbow, René painted himself because his life was full of confusion at that moment.

The gloomy weather portrayed the sadness he was always strangled with. 

Also, the dislocated elbow shows that he was suffering from pain in his life, and he was still facing all the challenges by hiding the pain.

That is the reason René has covered his face with an apple. 

It is also believed that René commissioned someone else to do this work on his behalf, but the rumors have vanished.

It was clear that he had painted himself in the painting and not anyone else.

He was not a big-fan of showing his face, which is why he covered his face in The Son of Man.

He had this message quite clear in his mind “The things we couldn’t see are the things we desire.”

Does It Depict Something Religious?

The name of this painting is “The Son of Man,” which is related to the biblical story of Jesus Christ.

But is that what René actually meant in his artwork?

Well, when he was asked whether The Son of Man is actually related to something religious. 

To this, René denied it by saying that none of his works are inspired by biblical stories or anything like that.

Also, later, the speculations were wiped off when there was no mention of Jesus or any religion in his paintings.

After all, René painted The Son of Man to trigger endless perspectives! And viola, he successfully did that!

The Single Eye Revelation

At first glance, you might see that René has covered the whole face of the man with an apple!

But when you take a closer look, you can see that he has revealed the left eye of the man.

The famous theory behind the revelation of the left eye is that it is related to the suicide of René’s mother.

In The Son of Man, he painted the eye as a symbol of grief and the loss of a loved one.

In 1912, René Magritte’s mother committed suicide by jumping in the river Sambre, Belgium.

As a teenager, Rene suffered the loss of her mother, and when her body was found, her face was partially covered by her night suit with her left eye visible.

This was a shock in his life, and he found it hard to process. That is why he painted the Son of Man with an eye revealed!

Influence Of this Artwork

Rene's contribution in the era of surrealism.
Rene’s face covered with his hand inside an eye; Original Image:

René Magritte painted some of the most intricate and engaging artworks of his era.

They were not just limited to that era; like The Son of Man, his artworks had an everlasting impact on the art world.

René’s work has also made some of the most efficient changes in the art world.

With time, he painted more surrealist paintings, and they helped him rise to fame as an artist.

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Magritte also uses general objects used in everyday life, to deceive our perceptions of what is real or not.

This picture provokes the viewers to look into the vast distance of life to search for what is hidden.

The main themes in the artworks by René Magritte are the ideas of the visible and the hidden and how the world sees them. 

Artists from around the world began showing interest in Surrealism, and some of the painters largely contributed to the movement.


So, this was the painting of the Son of Man, which pays attention to the fact that everything comes with proper consequences.

In the Son of Man, you can see in the painting that even though he had covered his face with an apple, the rest of the details are on point.

René’s artworks have left people wanting for more, and they wonder what the fuss is all about.

But when they come across it, they tend to use their vision as artists, and then they claim that the treasure has been hunted and the worth of the painting has been twisted.

René has talked about his life experiences through art, and he has always tried to portray deep messages through his paintings.

Whatever the consequences of life, René faced them and displayed them through his art.

The Son of Man was and will always be a gem from the era of surrealism.

Do you wish to decorate your space with a gem like this?

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Author’s Note

Thank you for reading this article about René Magritte’s famous painting, ‘The Son of Man’. 

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Q1. How much is the Son of Man worth?

The painting by Belgian artist was sold to a private art collection for over $5 million.

Q2. Where can I get a replica of the Son of Man by Rene Magritte?

You can get a replica of the Son of Man by Rene Magritte in just a few hundred bucks at PortraitFlip.
Plus, we assure you that the quality will be equivalent to that of a museum.

Q3. In what year did Rene Magritte paint the Son Of Man?

Rene Magritte painted the Son of Man in the year 1964.

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