The Treachery of Images

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The Treachery of Images
Artist René Magritte
Year 1928–29 (1928–29)
Type Oil on canvas
Dimensions 63.5 cm × 93.98 cm (25 in × 37 in)
Location Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California[1]

The Treachery of Images (French: La trahison des images [la tʁaizɔ̃ dez imaʒ], 1928–29, sometimes translated as The Treason of Images) is a painting by the Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte, painted when Magritte was 30 years old. It is currently on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The picture shows a pipe. Below it, Magritte painted, "Ceci n'est pas une pipe.", French for "This is not a pipe."

"The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it's just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture 'This is a pipe', I'd have been lying!"[2]

His statement is taken to mean that the painting itself is not a pipe. The painting is merely an image of a pipe. Hence, the description, "this is not a pipe." The theme of pipes with the text "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" is extended in his 1966 painting, Les Deux Mystères.[3]

The painting is sometimes given as an example of meta message conveyed by paralanguage.[4] Compare with Korzybski's "The word is not the thing" and "The map is not the territory".

See also[edit]

External video
Magritte's The Treachery of Images (Ceci n’est pas une pipe), Smarthistory[5]
René Magritte considers language and perception, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art[6]


  1. ^ La Trahison des images (Ceci n'est pas une pipe), 1929, Painting, Oil on canvas. Purchased with funds provided by the Mr. and Mrs. William Preston Harrison Collection (78.7). On public view: Ahmanson Building 2nd Floor.
  2. ^ Torczyner, Harry. Magritte: Ideas and Images. p. 71. 
  3. ^ "Olga's Gallery". Retrieved 3 October 2010. 
  4. ^ Studies in Language, Volume 28, Issues 1-2, J. Benjamins 2004, p. 247, doi: 10.1075/sl.28.1.14hai
  5. ^ "Magritte's The Treachery of Images (Ceci n’est pas une pipe)". Smarthistory at Khan Academy. Retrieved March 29, 2013. 
  6. ^ "René Magritte considers language and perception". San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved March 16, 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]