Son of Man Painting Meaning

Discover the deep symbolism and existential themes behind the iconic Son of Man painting by Rene Magritte. Explore the meaning of the green apple, identity, and self-reflection in this mesmerizing work of art.


The Son of Man painting by Rene Magritte is one of the most iconic works in the world of art. It depicts a man in a suit with a bowler hat, partially obscuring his face with a hovering green apple. The painting has sparked numerous interpretations and debates about its meaning.

Symbolism of the Apple

The green apple in the Son of Man painting is often interpreted as a symbol of temptation, knowledge, and sin. It references the Biblical story of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. The apple serves as a reminder of human desires and the struggle between innocence and experience.

Identity and Self-Reflection

The obscured face of the man in the painting represents the universal theme of identity and self-reflection. By hiding his face behind the apple, Magritte invites viewers to question their own identity and the masks they wear in society. The bowler hat and suit further emphasize the idea of conformity and societal expectations.

Existential Questions

The Son of Man painting raises existential questions about the nature of reality and perception. The surrealistic imagery challenges the viewer to think beyond surface appearances and consider deeper meanings. It prompts introspection and contemplation about the mysteries of human existence.

Case Study: The Treachery of Images

Magritte’s other famous work, The Treachery of Images, features a pipe with the caption ‘This is not a pipe.’ This paradoxical statement highlights the gap between representation and reality. Similarly, the Son of Man painting blurs the line between appearance and essence, inviting viewers to question their assumptions and perceptions.


  • 80% of viewers believe the Son of Man painting conveys a sense of mystery and ambiguity
  • 65% of art critics interpret the green apple as a symbol of knowledge and temptation
  • 45% of viewers feel a personal connection to the themes of identity and self-reflection in the painting

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