René François Magritte (21 November 1898 – 15 August 1967) painted this Souvenir de Voyage (actually the Leaning Tower in Pisa, Italy). It is an oil on canvas measuring 40 by 30cm and painted in 1958. Harry Torczyner, a native of Antwerp and a lawer in Belgium before fleeing the Nazis and coming to the United States, commissioned it from the artist and it was later acquired from the above in 1962 by the Bodely Gallery in New York.
Magritte was a Belgian surrealist artist and became well-known for a number of witty and thought-provoking images.
In 1912, his mother committed suicide by drowning herself in the river Sambre. Magritte was present when her body was retrieved from the water. The image of his mother floating, her dress obscuring her face, influenced a series of paintings of people with cloth obscuring their faces, including Les Amants, but Magritte obviously disliked this explanation.
In 1926, Magritte produced his first surreal painting, The Lost Jockey (Le jockey perdu), and held his first exhibition in Brussels in 1927. Critics heaped abuse on the exhibition. Depressed by the failure, he moved to Paris where he became friends with André Breton, and became involved in the surrealist group. Magritte died of pancreatic cancer on August 15, 1967 and was interred in Schaarbeek Cemetery, Brussels.
This picture reached at auction on the 3rd of February 2009 the sum of 746,850 GBP ($1,07 million) vs. an estimate of 400,000—600,000 GBP (price with Buyer's Premium).