The Flavour of Tears

© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2024. Image credit: The Henry Barber Trust, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham

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Surrealist painting stirs the imagination by subverting our expectations and transgressing boundaries. To this beguiling mixture Magritte added a disturbing reality that we know from our dreams. Here, a totem-like bird assumes the form of a tobacco leaf. The bird-leaf 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.

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts



The Flavour of Tears




oil on canvas


H 59.4 x W 49.5 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

purchased, 1983

Work type


Inscription description

Signed l.l: Magritte. Inscribed and dated on the verso: 'LA SAVEUR/DES LARMES'/1948


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Normally on display at

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts

University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, West Midlands B15 2TS England

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