After the first painting sold to Rockefeller, Iolas wrote to Magritte: “I have a very nice surprise for you: One of the most important collectors has purchased L’Empire des lumières before the exhibition, I am very happy because it means huge publicity, and will cause envy among all the other dealers who hold their noses in the air when I fight on your behalf.”
The following year, Magritte would revisit the motif—contrasting night and day, melancholy and hope, in a suburban street scene—with a slightly larger painting, the L’Empire des Lumières no. 2 (1950). The painting quickly sold to the de Menils, who, presumably, admired the original work. The de Menils donated the work to MoMA in 1951 and it remains in their collection today. It remains to be seen whether or not the first in the series will change hands during the course of this week’s fair.