Small Train Station at Night

Paul Delvaux (Belgian, 1897–1994)
Oil on canvas
55 1/4 x 67 in. (140.3 x 170.2 cm)
Credit Line:
The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection, 2002
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 901
Trains play a prominent, recurring role in Delvaux’s surrealist imagery, including this eerie depiction of two locomotives leaving their terminus at night. Unpopulated, the composition invites the viewer to imagine inhabiting the space, thus evoking a sense of loneliness and vulnerability. An unnaturally large moon casts the scene in a cool, still light that produces protracted, ominous shadows. These features betray Delvaux’s debt to Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico, who likewise explored the train as both subject and symbol in his work.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): P. Delvaux/ 3-59; inscribed (verso, upper stretcher): Exposition Steampfli [sic] New York - Paul Delvaux - Petite Gare la Nuit
the artist (on consignment October–November 1959 to Staempfli Gallery, New York; sold in November 1959 to Matisse); Pierre Matisse, New York (1959–d. 1989; stock no. 4046); his widow, Maria-Gaetana Matisse, née von Spreti, New York (1989–d. 2001); Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation (2002; gift to MMA)

New York. Staempfli Gallery. "Paul Delvaux," October 20–November 7, 1959, no. 25.

Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Peintres de l'imaginaire: Symbolistes et Surréalistes belges," February 4–April 8, 1972, no. 99.

Rotterdam. Museum Boymans-van Beuningen. "Paul Delvaux," April 13–June 17, 1973, no. 55.

Knokke-Heist. Casino. "Paul Delvaux," June 23–September 2, 1973, no. 44.

Brussels. Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique. "Paul Delvaux, 1897–1994," March 21–June 27, 1997, no. 95.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection," May 18, 2004–June 26, 2005, no catalogue.

Museo Picasso Málaga. "La Colección Pierre y Maria-Gaetana Matisse en The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nueva York," March 26–June 24, 2007, no. 5.

Lawrence Campbell. "Reviews and Previews: Paul Delvaux." Art News 58 (November 1959), p. 12.

Paul-Aloïse De Bock. Paul Delvaux: L'Homme, Le Peintre: Psychologie d'un Art. Brussels, 1967, p. 209, no. 135, ill. p. 209.

Bernard Noël. "Les peintres belges de l'imaginaire." XXe Siècle 34 (June 1972), p. 177.

Suzanne Houbart–Wilkin in Delvaux. Brussels, 1975, pp. 98, 248, no. 244, ill.

Barbara Emerson. Delvaux. Antwerp, 1985, p. 167, ill.

Sabine Rewald in "Selections from the Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 61 (Spring 2004), p. 55, ill.

Sabine Rewald. The American Matisse: The Dealer, His Artists, His Collection. The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection. New York, 2009, pp. 42–43, 151, ill. (color), erroneously includes bibliography for Chagall (MMA 2002.456.8).