Trompe loeil

DEFINITION

A French term meaning ???deception of the eye??? and referencing a method of painting rendered in such a photographically realistic manner as to ???trick??? the viewer into thinking it is three-dimensional reality. The success of William Harnett???s painting, ???After the Hunt???, created the vogue, which is sometimes called 'illusionism'. A version of Harnett's painting hung in a New York saloon and widely seen, word about it quickly spread. In order for the optical illusion to be created, the objects need to appear close to the viewer. Some critics regard Trompe l'Oeil painting as merely technical exercise rather than aesthetical profundity. Various stories are associated with this type of painting. Reportedly Classical Greek painter, Zeuxis, painted such realistic grapes that the birds tried to eat them, and students of Dutch painter, Rembrandt, painted coins so realistically that he bent down to pick them up. Offshoots of Trompe l'Oeil painting are Photo-Realism, Magic Realism and Surrealism. Sources: Ralph Mayer, "A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques"; Kimberley Reynolds and Richard Seddon, "Illustrated Dictionary of Art Terms" (LPD)

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