‘Believe not thine eyes.’ Trompe l’oeil in Art
08.12.2018 – 10.03.2019
From 8 December 2018, the exhibition “Believe not thine eyes.” Trompe l’oeil in Art will be open in the Manege of the Small Hermitage. The display is created entirely from the State Hermitage’s own stocks, around 700 items, including paintings and works of graphic art, sculpture, articles made from silver, glass and semiprecious stone, various fabrics and pieces of furniture.
Trompe l’oeil means the illusory reproduction of real-life objects by artistic methods, giving the viewer the impression of the actual thing being present rather than a depiction. Such works play games with our visual perception: flat objects become three-dimensional; nearby ones become far off; the illusion becomes the reality. Trompe l’oeil creations leave us astonished at the artists’ skills, their persuasive striving to deceive.
The Hermitage collection makes it possible to present the history of the genesis of trompe l’oeil works in the cultures of the ancient world and to show the diverse forms they have taken in art from the 14th century to the early 20th.
The exhibition presents for the first time on such a scale items that engage in various forms of deception, including trompe l’oeil – works that produce the illusion of volume; the imitation of materials – objects that appear to be made from something else (wood, stone, metal); the imitation of objects – one thing taking on the appearance of another (books, fruit, flowers). All the exhibits “trick” us with their semblance of reality and at the same time fascinate us with its skilful execution.
The exhibition has been prepared by the State Hermitage’s Department of the History of Russian Culture (headed by Viacheslav Anatolyevich Feodorov), with the participation of the Departments of Classical Antiquity, the East, Numismatics, Western European Fine Art and Western European Applied Art, the Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory and the Research Library.