Edward James in front of "On the Threshold of Liberty"

Artist: René Magritte (Belgian, Lessines 1898–1967 Brussels)

Date: 1937

Medium: Gelatin silver print

Dimensions: 10.8 x 16.7 cm (4 1/4 x 6 9/16 in.)

Classification: Photographs

Credit Line: Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987

Accession Number: 1987.1100.157

Rights and Reproduction: © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Edward James was an eccentric poet, collector, and patron of both Dalí and Magritte. In 1937, when Magritte visited James in London, he painted a vertical version of his 1929 canvas On the Threshold of Liberty to install in the stairwell; he also photographed his host and patron in front of the painting. The photographic description is so close to the painter's realistic style, and James is so close to the painting, that he seems to stand on the threshold-evidently unaware that the potential liberty before him is threatened by the heavy artillery at his side.