A Trick of the Eye

Tromple-l’oeil or ‘Deceive the Eye’ is an artistic technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions. Painters throughout the ages have used this technique to trick their viewers. In architecture, the comparable illusion is known as forced perspective. However, it was not only artists and architects who made use of this, but also furniture makers.

We currently have a superb late 18th century satinwood bookcase-cabinet in our collection. The cabinet doors are inset with ovals decorated with their original highly decorative gilt wire mesh – incredible quality in their own right – behind which as you might expect of this period, are pleated silk panels.

Look closer and closer and you might begin to realise everything is not quite what it seems. Even with these close up photographs below, can you tell yet?

The pleated silk panels are not actually silk but painted to look like silk. Wonderfully done – a real tromple l’oeil.

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