The enigmatic 'Portrait of Space' allows the viewer to decide where their focus lies and what is happening. The cloud behind the frame, reminiscent in shape of a bird, is possibly alluding to how Lee felt at the time. Loving the adventure of the desert yet finding the expectations of the ex-patriot society stifling, she felt a longing to escape. In Egypt Lee was far from the buzzing art movement she had been a part of in Paris. In her letters to Roland she often asks for news of the artworld, her friends, and for art publications even though she was well connected to several artists in the Egyptian surrealist movement 'Art & Liberty'.
Portrait of Space was first published in the London bulletin in June 1940, along with Lee's photograph of her friend Dora Maar in profile. The image was seen by many of the Surrealist circle. Rene Magritte was particulary inspired by the image and used the shape of the torn fly screen in his 1938 painting Le Baiser.
This photograph and a similar version are said to have been the inspiration for the painting entitled 'Le Baiser' by the Belgian Surrealist Rene Magritte.
Published in London Bulletin, June 1940.