Trompe l’Oeil – The Art of Illusion

Aug 21st, 2015 | News

 I was recently browsing around looking for a large picture that would work for an indoor/outdoor space, and found this fun tapestry that is a little more than six feet wide by four and a half feet tall, which fits the space beautifully.  Now, every time we look at that tapestry, instead of seeing a white wall, we’ll be instantly transported to a lovely terrace in Provence overlooking the vineyards.

A view across the vineyards through the stone arches
It reminded me of the very large painting that hung in the dining room at Les Abeilles – a striking and colorful view across a field of Sunflowers….
Sunflowers under a dramatic Provencal sky in the dining room at Restaurant Les Abeilles
It was so pleasant to look from at across the room – bright yellow sunflowers under a dramatic Provencal summer sky. Looking at that sky, you could almost feel a the intense humidity that builds up just before short but intense Provencal thunderstorms.  It hung on the wall opposite the large windows which looked out onto the courtyard, and really gave the feel of an indoor/outdoor space with sunflowers on one side and enormous plane trees shading the courtyard outside.
But … art illusions are not restricted to indoor/outdoor spaces.  If you are travelling in Provence, keep your eyes open for the large murals in large and small towns and villages, often dressing up an otherwise rather plain space. Trompe l’oeil  – the art of tricking the eye by the use of perspective and lighting, has been used in Europe since the early Renaissance. Here are some more contemporary Provencal expressions.
In the village of Entreaigues …
… the blunt end of a row of narrow village  houses, shows the occupants on a pretty upstairs balcony while downstairs a child plays near a water fountain sheltered under a stone arch.
A corner in the middle of Entraigues

On a walk through the pretty village of Venasque…

Venasque, Provence – a dog relaxes in the courtyard


… we walked past a narrow opening between stone buildings, and noticed a picturesque gravel courtyard – windows with colorful shutters where the family dog lay relaxing.
Looking again, we realized that our eyes were playing tricks on us, but it was a very pleasant trick.
In the town of Loriol-sur -Drome … one corner of an intersection takes our eyes to a neighborhood shopping area, surrounded by olive trees .. an stone arched door leads to … perhaps another garden .. who knows …
But in reality .. we are en route to the A7!

A busy intersection in Loriol-sur-Drome, Provence
Got a large blank wall?
 Give it some decorative windows!
Or perhaps a fountain, like the one that adorns this exterior wall in Buis les Barronies…
Nowhere to plant a large olive tree? No problems, again in Buis les Barronies
Buis les Barronies is in the heart of Olive growing country
Our “window view” towards Seguret in the kitchen at Maison des Pelerins

… And when we couldn’t have a window above the stove top in the kitchen at Maison des Pelerins

… a very talented ceramic artist gave us one that looks at Seguret … just like a real window in that wall would!

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