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Illusion, Delusion, Collusion, and Perceptual Paradox (page 3)

Illusion, Delusion, Collusion, and Perceptual Paradox


Fig.6.9 Cornelis Gijsbrechts, Easel. 226 × 123 cm. (ca. 1670). Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen.

There are three sorts of trompe l'œil objects and settings: (a) cutouts, (b) hearth screens, and (c) objects painted on odd surfaces. Chantourné (literally, cutout), is a trompe l'œil representation designed to stand away from a wall. An example is Cornelis Gijsbrechts's (Figure 6.9).8

The effectiveness of chantourné paintings relies on an impression of solidity derived from the shadows they cast on the walls behind them. Often, as in the case of Easel the chantourné includes a painting, usually a skillfully illusionistic one. The hearth screen, devant de cheminée, a French invention, was quite popular during the late seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries. This type of painting fools the eye because we do not expect a screen there, and whatever is represented is mundane and does not violate our expectations regarding what we might find in an unused hearth during the summer. The objects are strongly illuminated in the foreground and quite dim in the background, where the niche of the hearth casts a shadow. Even Jean-Baptiste Chardin painted one (Figure 6.10). If the hearth screen is designed to disguise the existence of the surface on which it is painted, there is a similar trompe l'œil effect that can be obtained by painting on a surface that is an unlikely candidate to play such a role. An example is van der Vaart's Painted Violin (Figure 6.11).

Fig.6.10 Jean-Baptiste Chardin, The White Tablecloth (1737). Shows devant de cheminée. The Art Institute of Chicago Fig.6.11 van der Vaart (attrib.), Painted Violin (late seventeenth or early eighteenth century). Devonshire Collection, Chatsworth, England.

We finally come to the best-known class of trompe l'œil paintings - the several types of display boards. For example: Figure 6.12, the hunting trophy; Figure 6.13, the quod libet (what you will), which eventually evolves into the letter-rack; Figure 6.14, the vide poche (pocket emptier); and Figure 6.15 , the poster board.

Fig.6.12 Jacopo de'Barbari, Dead Partridge (1504). Alte Pinakothek, Munich Fig.6.13 Edward Collier, Quod Libet (1701). Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Fig.6.14 Samuel van Hoogstraten, Still Life (1655). Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der bildended Künste, Vienna Fig.6.15 Trompe l' il (early nineteenth century). Nuremberg

8 See also Antonio Forbora, The Artist's Easel (1686), Musée Calvert, Avignon.

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