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

Attributed to Christoph Amberger (about 1505-1561/2)

A Portrait of a Man


Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788)

The Harvest Wagon

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Jan Gossaert (about 1478–1532)

Hercules and Deianira

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Evaristo Baschenis (1617-1677)

A Still Life with Musical Instruments