This exhibition is an invitation to a grand illusion, like a treasure hunt through the centuries and materials. In order to show the richness and range of the techniques and creativity used in trompe l’œil, nearly two hundred rarely or never previously exhibited objects have been gathered around twelve themes. From ‘shadow and Light’ to ‘One Material can Disguise Another’, through ‘hypnotic Optics’ and the recreation of a real fake Period Room, the visitor is given the keys to unlock the tricks and devices of imitation and trompe l’œil.
In French, trompe l’œil means to fool the eye and that is exactly what it does. Its origins reach back to the frescoes and mosaics of Antiquity. Although Antiquity may have been the starting point for this perfect illusion, it was not until the Renaissance and Mannerism that the use of trompe l’œil escalated, reaching its apogee and becoming a genre in its own right during the Baroque period, largely thanks to the use of perspective and chiaroscuro. While the base materials, media, supports and contexts may have differed, every era has been drawn to trompe l’œil.