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Le mal de mer (Seasickness)

A work made of oil on canvas.

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.




René Magritte
Belgian, 1898–1967

About this artwork

In the spring of 1948, René Magritte debuted an astonishing body of work, including the painting seen here, in which he set out to challenge the notion of artistic sincerity. Radiantly expressive and looking nothing like his paintings of the previous two decades, this new style—termed his période vache, or “nasty style”—used lurid colors and crude paint handling to convey the ongoing unease of Europe after the Second World War.

Seasickness, arguably the most iconic painting from this moment, has no nautical elements. Yet the title is paid off by a garish sport coat and slab of ham sweltering in the sun that were intended to make viewers feel mild visual nausea. As Magritte explained at the time: “I live in a very unpleasant world … that’s why my painting is a battle, or rather a counteroffensive.”


On View, Gallery 396


Modern Art


René Magritte


Le mal de mer (Seasickness)


Belgium (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil on canvas


54 × 65 cm (21 1/4 × 25 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

The Lacy Armour, Eloise W. Martin Legacy, and Kate S. Buckingham endowment funds

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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