The trompe-l'oeil is a pictorial genre intended to play on the confusion of the perception of the spectator who, knowing that he is in front of a painting, a painted flat surface, is despite everything, deceived on the means of obtaining this illusion. .
One of the first undertakings of art painting being to appear first on walls, then on canvases, images of our environment, this figuration led to laws of perspective and developed a pictorial technicality which remains one of the main directions. art.
A game of seduction and confusion on the part of the spectator, the trompe-l'oeil has very obviously chosen more readily towards inanimate or static subjects.
The field of trompe-l'oeil is not limited to the painting; when it goes beyond the frame, it invades the entire wall and becomes a mural. Architecture is then represented there according to the laws of perspective for the viewer; it can also, in a striking illusion, be a real architectural trompe-l'oeil.
In spite of everything, let's not confuse effective deception and very realistic pictorial representation: an object which leaves the frame and painted on the edge of the painting is often a trompe-l'oeil intended to show that the rest of the painting is not one ( see the writings of Daniel Arasse: Le Détail, pour une histoire rapprochée de la peinture, 1992), a perspective view in a frame is a representation, a perspective painted in the setting itself to extend its reality, a trompe-l ' eye, like the moldings and windows decorating the Italian facades of Liguria.
The French expression "trompe-l'oeil" is used in all languages except Spanish (trampantojo).
Pliny the Elder relates the anecdote according to which Zeuxis painted grapes so realistic that birds, deceived by the perfect execution, rushed against the painting.
Despite the paucity of technical means at their disposal, the Roman decorators succeeded in imitating the relief on the walls to simulate the sculpture and the architectural elements: columns, capitals, bases, statues, enriching the interiors at a lower cost.
At the dawn of the awakening of civilization in the form of unrealistic painting Giotto begins by using trompe-l'oeil in his decoration of the Scrovegni Chapel (1305) in Padua. In Florence, his pupil Taddeo Gaddi imitates his example in the choir of Santa Maria Novella (c. 1338). It was not until more than a century that their successors Masolino da Panicale and Masaccio repeated this feat.
The invention of oil painting, which allowed modeling, was immediately reflected in the imitation of sculpture on the shutters of church paintings by Van Eyck. All the paintings of his close successors: Rogier van der Weyden, Memling, Mabuse, the triptych of the Annunciation of Aix have been classified by art historians in the genre of "sculptural painting". In Italy, in the 15th century, Antonello of Messina presented a trompe-l'oeil in the Saint Jerome of the National Gallery.
The Venetian Carlo Crivelli paints a trompe-l'oeil with his Madonna and Child in the New York Museum. He is also careful to decorate each of his paintings with full-size fruits and vegetables, which have no other purpose than to affirm their reality.
In 1504, finally, Jacopo de Barbari, Venetian, made in Vienna a prototype of the trompe-l'oeil that would follow, which is at the same time the first still life, in the form of a partridge suspended from a wall with two gauntlets of iron (Munich, Alte Pinakothek).
In the Italian 17th century, painting turned away from realism to develop its illustrative possibilities in large decorative dimensions. However, Raphael does not hesitate to underline his grandiose frescoes in the Vatican with camaieu bases imitating sculpture: