Dose of Art #99: Rene Magritte – The Empire of Lights (1954)

Between 1949 and 1964 Magritte made 16 versions of this painting and it is one of his most popular works.

This version is particularly nice. The blue sky with the white clouds (daylight) contrasts with the dark trees and the house (darkness) in the bottom half. The only reason we can see part of the house in more detail is because of the two lights. The brightest light is that of the lantern outside. It lights the street and the white outside of the wall, while at the same time casting shadows.
The blinds of the downstairs windows are closed, but upstairs we can see light in one of the rooms; more orange and warm than the cool light of the lantern. The absence of visible people in a scene where they are clearly present makes the strangeness of the painting complete. No wonder it was so popular.