Trompe l’oeil


Art is a very extensive field in which painting has a very important role. There is also a large number of ways to perform this art, some of them not very well known. One of these is the trompe l’oeil or Trompe l’ oeil , in French , a term used to refer to the representation of an object with such similarity that it has the ability to deceive the viewer in terms of material reality.


What is trompe l’oeil?

Trompe l’oeil is a type of pictorial technique by means of which one seeks to deceive the eye through the use of perspective and chiaroscuro to give scenes a sense of reality.


Trompe l’oeil characteristics

There are several characteristics that can be mentioned that make a trompe l’oeil to be recognized. The most important are the following:

  • The scenes that are painted using this technique give the impression of being real to the observer.
  • It is a word that is derived from the French language and which means in Spanish “to deceive the eye .”
  • It creates a feeling of confusion because at first impression it makes something that is false appear to be true.
  • It can also be used on facades , columns , windows and balconies to simulate some type of material that is not really there.
  • Use different types of planes , shadows and various color effects to trick.
  • It is considered as a type of ornamental decorative technique since it also has the main objective of being able to renew structures that have been affected over time and that have lost their beauty.
  • It is a technique that can also be used in the area of photography and architecture .

Origin of trompe l’oeil

Its true origin dates back to ancient Greek times when Zeuxis and Parrasio created a painting showing a bunch of grapes, which was so real that even birds tried to nibble it. Little by little they were developed and were also used very widely in Pompeii painting and in medieval times . It was not used for a while but later it took a lot of strength again in the Renaissance period, reaching its peak during the Baroque period where it was highly valued by the bourgeois class .

Explanation of the technique

Trompe l’oeil is a technique that involves bringing life and realism to inanimate images or objects that are purposely created to give a false perspective . This is a way of painting that requires, among its main requirements, a lot of patience on the part of the author. The technique to paint them must be done by hand and a series of different perspectives , lights , tones and colors are used to give the perspective of reality that characterizes it.

Depending on the place where it is going to be done, the painter will need paints of different types, which can be acrylic , watercolors , water or oil . Brushes are also very necessary, thick and fine line . Open spaces such as the sky or the sea should be painted with thicker brushes.

The place must be well chosen before starting the work, it can be a wall, a staircase, the ceiling or even a window. Making a sketch before starting the drawing is recommended to avoid making mistakes directly on the wall. Subsequently, the drawing must be traced using a pencil , then a coat of diluted acrylic paint will be passed to then remove all residues.

The technique suggests that the ideal is to start work up to down to avoid splashing paint these areas. First, the base colors will be placed and then, little by little, you will put the shadows and diffuse the tones . An important tip that is also part of the technique is to constantly move away from the design to check that the objective is really being achieved, which is, to deceive the human eye.

Application in the kitchen

In culinary art the use of trompe l’oeil is also applied. This is done when the chef or cook makes a dish but makes it look in such a way that the person who consumes it believes that they are eating something completely different. The main objective is to surprise the customer with a more creative plate . This type of culinary art is part of a trend known as ” play food “, an avant-garde trend that includes a series of different techniques.

There are many international chefs who use the technique to surprise their guests. Many have created for example black olives that are actually spheres of cheese, tuna skewers that are actually pieces of watermelon and many fascinating dishes that surprise the imagination of customers.

Other uses of trompe l’oeil

This type of paint is widely used in interiors with the aim of being able to introduce a series of elements that in reality could not be there. It has been used for example to place walls, doors, windows, landscapes or animals in places where it is impossible for them to be in order to give more life to the space. It is also common for them to be done on tables or on some types of furniture .


Its importance lies in the fact that thanks to the trompe l’oeil it is possible to create a series of optical illusions that lead the person to move to a panorama that, without this style of art, could not be enjoyed. It is a type of art that also makes it possible for the person who makes it to expand their ideas and capture them in a place where they can beautify the panorama.

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