The painting consists of a man in an overcoat and a bowler hat standing in front of a low wall, beyond which is the sea and a cloudy sky. The man "face is largely obscured by a hovering green apple. However, the man "eyes can be seen peeking over the edge of the apple.
This work was commissioned by Harry Torczyner in the summer of 1963 and delivered to him in August 1964. He had asked Magritte to do a self portrait in the spirit of self portraits by two Flemish painters, Rubens and Ensor, in which the artists wear hats. The title of this work was found by Irene Hamoir, a Belgian poet and an important member of the Belgian surrealist movement.
René Magritte was one of the most famous surrealist painters of all time. His ability to challenge perception inspired many artists to come, such as Andy Warhol, Jan Verdoodt and Jasper Johns. Furthermore, his idiosyncratic vision of Surrealism has won over the hearts and minds of millions.
He worked across various media including painting, printmaking, sculpting, photography, and film. His depiction of normal, everyday objects rearranged in an unusual way allowed his viewers to take a deeper look at what was in front of them and realize what the image truly represented.
One of his most well-known pieces, The Treachery of Images exemplifies his ability to give new meanings to objects. It is an image of a pipe, and beneath it, a message that reads, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (“This is not a pipe”).
This ability to make the mundane strange and the known unknown has solidified Magritte’s talents in the art world. Eventually, it has profoundly affected the Conceptualist and Pop Art movements, to this very day.