Trompe l’oeil

Trompe l’oeil is a French term whereby artists paint in such a way as to fool the onlooker into thinking they are seeing the real thing.  It is a means “to deceive the eye”.  Trompe l’oeil comes from ancient Greece where a contest between two prominent artists had one of them painting grapes so realistic that birds actually tried to eat them.  The second artist painted an illusionistic curtain with such skill that his competitor tried to draw it to one side. 


Renaissance artists used the new tool of perspective to decorate ceilings that seemed to give an illusion of infinite space, the heavens seem to open up. 


Trompe l’oeil in the mid-16th century was used in portraits, where it seems the subject is emerging from the painting.  Dutch artists in the 17th century produced Trompe l’oeil paintings of newspapers and other objects tucked behind leather straps that one thought they could actually pull out and read. 


Today, street artists have widely used Trompe l’oeil to deceive curious on-lookers.


Hillforest boasts examples of Trompe l’oeil on the walls and ceilings of the vestibule and parlors, giving a three dimensional effect.  On closer observation, a flat, painted wall can be noticed.