barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham

René Magritte (1898-1955)

The Flavour of Tears

Brussels, 1948

Oil on canvas

59.4 x 49.5 cm


Surrealist paintings stir the imagination by subverting our expectations and transgressing boundaries.

To this beguiling mixture Magritte adds a disturbing reality that we know from our dreams. Here, a totem-like bird assumes the form of a tobacco leaf. The birdleaf is consumed by a caterpillar that it would normally eat and the strange hybrid grows in front of a curtain which blurs landscape and interior. The title adds another provocative element. There are no tears, and we cannot taste a painting, but perhaps we should weep for a bird of peace that disintegrates before us.

Purchased 1983 (No. 83.1)


Image © The Barber Institute of Fine Arts / ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2016

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David the younger Teniers (1610-1690)

The Bleaching Ground


ascribed to Jan de Beer (about 1475 – before 1528)

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