Visual illusion, brief explanation of the “trompe-l’oeil”

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Painting, being a visual art, has always pursued the illusion through its plastic expression. It is their reason for existing communicating through the vision, as the art of music does through the ear. And create sensations, illusions, and therefore mimic reality in many cases. The bison of the Altamira cave is a desire painted before, or the subsequent imitation of the trophy. But, always with the intention of delighting, the artist has sought to get as close as possible to the model.

 

Visual illusion and reality

The objective of the painting of a “trompe-l’oeil” is to integrate into the reality that surrounds it. It is, to explain it with a comparison, like the chromatic metamorphosis of the chameleon. The visual illusion initially consists in that what is represented loses its prominence in the context and goes unnoticed. But once discovered by the viewer’s observation, it is admired for its camouflage procedure and technique. It disguises itself as the reflection of reality.

Trompe-l'oeil "Things of the grandfather"

Trompe-l’oeil “Things of the grandfather”

Topics in the trompe-l’oeils

The themes are varied, as it can be a simulation of interior or exterior. Initially the trompe-l’oeils could be found within other compositions. From the window that, like “metaimage” (a painting inside a painting) breaks the two-dimensional background, to the fly that perches on some object represented in the painted work. But the trompe-l’oeil, as a subgenre of still lifes or “bodegones”, eventually acquired autonomy.

Metaimage of a landscape in a Florentine work, XV century

Metaimage of a landscape in a Florentine work, XV century

In fact he acquired nature card in many Baroque masterpieces. To point out some, of course, of Velázquez, “The water seller of Seville” (1621, London, Wellington Museum) . How the pitcher of the foreground, masterfully painted, transpires as alive. He helps with his immediate realism to integrate the observer into the scene, outside the frame, but without stealing prominence from the main scene.

The wather seller of Sevilla by Velázquez

The wather seller of Sevilla by Velázquez

In this way, the observer is introduced visually through plans and also to avoid the “compromised perspective”. As in the case of the architectural fake on the illusionist ceilings. In these, some very obvious leak lines are concealed or covered directly with clouds, angels, or allegorical characters. And it is also the work of many of the inns in “counter-posto” (“contrapposto”) of the sibyls and prophets that Miguel Anguel painted in the Sistine Chapel. This avoids inconsistencies in the perspective of the whole and the composition gains possible views that are difficult to fit without this trick.

Pretended niche in Santa Croce (Florence) XV century

Pretended niche in Santa Croce (Florence) XV century

To take into account in general

The homogeneous illumination of the whole is also important for the final effect of a trompe-l’oeil. This seeks a reference in the real environment more or less fixed (a window, a skylight, artificial lighting, etc.), in this way coherence becomes more complete. Remember the comparison with the camouflage of the chameleon that integrates into its surroundings until it disappears.

The imitation of reality is what makes the genre of the “trompe-l’oeil” a precursor to current hyperrealism (William Michael Harnett, Clonakilty, Ireland, 1848 – New York, 1892) (John Frederic Peto, Philadelphia, 1854 – Island Heights, New Jersey, 1907). Especially American hyperrealism in this case. Like Flemish painting in general, and the Van Eyck in particular, it was for all realism and subsequent hyperrealism in the art of painting in Europe.

During the realization of the trompe-l'oeil "Rural Balcony"

During the realization of the trompe-l’oeil “Rural Balcony”

For more information;

https://www.latelierdesanti.com/en/the-still-life-in-the-santis-workshop/

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