The Treachery of Images

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The Treachery of Images
Artist René Magritte
Year 1928–29 (1928–29)
Medium 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.


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!

— René Magritte[2]


Magritte painted The Treachery of Images when he was 30 years old. It is currently on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.[3] His statement is taken to mean that the painting itself is not a pipe; it 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.[4]

The painting is sometimes given as an example of meta message conveyed by paralanguage.[5] 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[6]
René Magritte considers language and perception, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art[7]


  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. ^ "The Treachery of Images (This is Not a Pipe)". Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  4. ^ "Olga's Gallery". Retrieved 3 October 2010. 
  5. ^ Studies in Language, Volume 28, Issues 1-2, J. Benjamins 2004, p. 247, doi: 10.1075/sl.28.1.14hai
  6. ^ "Magritte's The Treachery of Images (Ceci n'est pas une pipe)". Smarthistory at Khan Academy. Retrieved March 29, 2013. 
  7. ^ "René Magritte considers language and perception". San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved March 16, 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]