Research point: Trompe l’oeil

Research some of the ways in which trompe l’oeil has been exploited in works of art, especially in decorative schemes.

Although trompe l’oeil which is the french for ‘deceiving the eye’ was used predominately in the Baroque age there are examples going as far back as the Greek and Roman era with murals being unearthed in Pompeii. It is an art form that uses realistic images to create an optical illusion of perspective and three dimension on a flat surface.

Once perspective was fully understood in the Renaissance, artists began to use the style of trompe l’oeil called “i sotto in sù,” which means “from below, upward” they painted ceilings as if they were seen from a true vanishing point perspective, so you think you are seeing a dome when in fact it is a flat surface.

Many 16th & 17th century Jesuit churches included trompe l’oeil ceilings. An example of this can be found in Vienna, the ceiling by Andrea Pozzo although only slightly curved had the illusion that there is a dome

Another form of trompe l’oeil is when a realistic painting is done on a piece of furniture or on a wall for instance a letter on a table or the Violin & bow that looks as if it hanging on a door in the music room of Chatsworth house in Derbyshire see here

Some more examples can be seen here and here

The modern day trompe l’oeil equivalent is 3D pavement art some examples can be seen here and this artists’ work is amazing. Fancy trying to pick up giant cup of coffee in London’s Coventry Garden here

I found this brilliant video on YouTube of a contemporary artist painting a staircase etc on a wall, when he is finished if you didn’t know better you would swear that it was a real staircase and try to walk up it.


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