Art Wednesday

Trompe l'oeil
the trick of the eye
Our brains are fooled into believing that what we are seeing is 3 dimensional when it isn't.  The word "trompe l'oeil" means "deceive the eye" and the examples I have included today certainly deceive the eye - some are outstanding.  How about the masterpiece below which was painted by Andrea Pozzo, a Baroque painter (1642-1709), and certainly from this photograph it is very difficult to see "what is real" and what is "fiction".  These artists were very talented and I admire any of those that have been able to convince the viewer that we are seeing something that is not really there. 

Even though the Baroque period is known for this style of painting, the techniques themselves were actually pioneered by the Greeks and Romans as a result of their intense desire to paint reality.

Painted by Andrea Pozzo (an Italian Jesuit brother) - Jesuit Church in Vienna, Austria
Pozzo wrote a book on perspective geometry aimed at assisting other artists and architects in creating art works like the one here. 

"Cabinet of Curiosities" thought to be painted by the Flemish artist Domenico Remps in the 1690’s.  It appears to open up before you, however painted on a flat canvas.  The eye is tricked for a number of reasons - the painting is life-size and depicts the objects in hyper-realistic detail - the wood grain shrinks the further into the cabinet you look and the way the shadows fall on the sill and the paper drawing. But the most important visual cue is the way the canvas is shaped - it follows the outline of the open cabinet - however the canvas is still completely flat.
What a perfect example of trompe l'oeil - this one is called "Escaping Criticism" by the Spanish painter,  Pere Borrell Del Caso (1835-1910).
This still life was done by the Dutch painter Edward Collier (1662-1708) who painted a number of similar paintings, they give the impression that you can reach out and almost remove that comb (here is another example).
This is an amazing painting called "A new variety, try one" by De Scott Evans (1847-1989), born David Scott Evans, an American artist known for his still life and landscapes. You can almost reach out and take one of those almonds.
This is a modern version of trompe l'oeil mural, this time on a side of a building (in Adge, France) and not a canvas - isn't it great - so full of detail.  I find it difficult to see what is reality and is fiction - perhaps in real-life making the distinction is much easier than from a photograph! (link to more detail views of this mural)

It would be interesting to know how hard it is to paint a trompe l'oeil - any budding artists out there willing to give it a go!! I would love to see your attempts.  Below is another example of modern a trompe l'oeil mural.  Can someone please shut the window!!

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  1. Jo, absolutely incredible! Amazing gifts these artists had and have! Thank you for sharing! I love art appreciation in our learning, it adds inspiration to life. xxx

  2. Wow, thoses are AMAZING!! Hard to choose which I like best, either - they are all evidence of huge talent!

  3. These paintings are quite amazing! I am sure it would take great talent in order to paint in this style. I sure would not be one up for the challenge.


    -Lady Rose

  4. Wow, those are *amazing*!

  5. Simply brilliant Jo! I am truly amazed...

    That first one is a work of genius! I could stare at it for hours!

  6. Love the first one....could stare at it all day, I think!

  7. Just awesome..we are studying Greek paintings and Architecture this week...I just had my son come in a read this as part of his lesson...thanks, I so enjoyed it!


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