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The Big Family, Oil by Rene Magritte (1898-1967, Belgium)

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The Big Family

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The Large Family (“La Grande Famille“) was created by Rene Magritte in 1963. At first glance, one immediately questions the appropriateness of the title for there is no image of a family, human or otherwise. However, that should not come as a surprise as Magritte was well-known to derive great pleasure in confusing his viewers. The background of The Large Family displays a dreary sky, either on the verge of a storm or, could the pink light on the horizon signify the end of one? The ominous clouds together with the rolling sea below evoke turbulent feelings, perhaps symbolizing the trials and tribulations that families often endure together. On the other hand, a significant contrast is created between the gloomy surroundings and the frontal white bird, a common symbol of peace. Window-like, this bird reveals within its silhouette a calm blue sky with white fluffy clouds that bring about feelings of warmth, much like those experienced on a beautiful summer day. The bird may well represent the unity and love within a family unit. In depicting harmony and discord, Magritte skillfully portrayed the concept of family in The Large Family by evoking relevant and intense emotions through symbolic surrealism.
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Rene Magritte

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