Deceiving the Eye with Beauty

Tromp l’oeil is a french term for “deceive the eye”, and is a term used in both art and decor for 2D paintings that look as if they are 3D objects, like grapes in a Dutch Old Master painting that look so real you want to reach out and pluck one to eat.

In decor, it’s one of the oldest concepts we have. Thousands of years ago, both the Greeks and the Romans employed trompe l’oeil techniques to make their homes lighter, more colorful, and more lavish than they really were.

 Trompe l’oeil mural, from Pompeii

Trompe l’oeil mural, from Pompeii

In the elaborately carved and ornamented Chateau de Versailles, it’s hard to tell where the real carving and gilding stops and the trompe l’oeil illusions take over. 

 Chateau de Versailles  

Chateau de Versailles  

Of course, though in use for centuries, the popularity of trompe l’oeil in decor is still popular today. In the 1950s, Piero Fornasetti popularized the form on furniture, on everything from cabinets, to wastebaskets, to trays. They were, and still, are highly sought-after! 

 Piero Fornasetti

Piero Fornasetti

Modern artists still practice the form for interiors as well. Can you believe this laurel wreath isn’t actually carved from stone?

 Ian Cairnie

Ian Cairnie

This years Kip’s Bay showhouse featured a room by Alexa Hampton swathed in hand-painted trompe l’oeil fabric wallpaper by de Gournay.

 Alexa Hampton

Alexa Hampton

And as technology moves on, we will be seeing even more trompe l’oeil in our homes and commercial spaces, like this dimensional wallpaper by Kelly Hoppen and Dynamo.

 Kelly Hoppen and Dynamo.

Kelly Hoppen and Dynamo.

Warmly,

Beth