Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Deception, thy name is Trompe-l'œil

There is an interesting story about deceptive painting involving two renowned Greek painters from around 464 BC. Zeuxis, once produced a still life so real that it convinced the birds to peck at the grapes in there. Parrahasius, a rival artist later invited Zeuxis to judge one of his paintings after pulling back a tattered curtains in his study. But when Zeuxis tried, he could not, as the curtains too were part of that Parrhasius's painting. 
This form of painting would probably be categorized as l trompe-l'œil.


Trompe-l'œil as defined by Wiki is French for "deceive the eye". This is a technique of art which uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions. A typical trompe-l'œil mural might depict a window, door, or hallway, intended to suggest a larger room.
This is also written as trompe l’oeil in English and is thought to have originated much earlier than our documented history. Examples are found in murals from Greek and Roman times.

This also reminds me of our own mythological story of Mahabharata. When the Pandevas invited their cousins Kauravas to their new palace, Duryodhan had trouble differentiating real from illusions making a clown of himself in the process.



About a decade ago, I was involved in a project for one of the royals and that was my introduction to the world of trompe l’oeil. We had crew of artist sent out from our Rome office to do carry out the task. It was the female bedroom of the suite in his so to say winter getaway. The idea was to have the drapes painted on the walls to match those installed on the windows. I was the architect overseeing the commissioning of the fit-out and was quite pleased to be part of the overall experience. While leave some imagery from that job here, I will save the description of its application process for another time and place.


1 comment:

  1. That is impressive! You must be one big shot! Handling royal bedrooms and all... :)
    Keep sharing such details. :)

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