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The Decoy
© The artist

Reference URL

The Decoy 1948

Not on display

Rimmington combines beautiful and disturbing elements in this painting, which is an important example of Surrealist art by a female British artist. The work shows the artist’s interest in metamorphosis, featuring stages from a butterfly’s life cycle. The species depicted can all be found in Britain. They are, clockwise from the top right, the Ringlet, Peacock, Wall Brown and Red Admiral butterflies. The exquisitely painted butterflies contrast with the more disquieting imagery of caterpillars emerging from the exposed palm of the hand. The veins inside the hand and wrist have been transformed into curving plant tendrils.

Glossary Open


A literary and artistic movement founded by the poet André Breton in 1924. Many of the associated artists, such as Max Ernst and Jean Arp, had previously been involved with Dadaism. The movement sought to challenge conventions through the exploration of the subconscious mind, invoking the power of dreams and elements of chance. Cultural hierarchies were challenged by the combination of diverse elements in collages and sculptural assemblages. The movement is also notable for the collaborations between artists and writers evident in the Surrealists' many publications.



  • Acc. No. GMA 4654
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 35.50 x 30.50 cm
  • Credit Purchased by the Patrons of the National Galleries of Scotland 2002