The Frick Collection
The West Gallery of The Frick Collection
Special Exhibition: Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702-1789): Swiss Master

Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702-1789): Swiss Master
June 13 through September 17, 2006

  Trompe l’Oeil, 1771
Oil on silk transferred to canvas
The Frick Collection, bequeathed by Lore Heinemann in memory of her husband, Dr. Rudolph J. Heinemann, 1997

When Liotard exhibited this painting in London in 1773, he described it as a “deceptio visus” (visual deception). With its illusionistic plaster reliefs suspended from screws and drawings adhered with sealing wax to a simulated pine panel, Trompe l’Oeil is both a delightful piece of visual trickery and a masterful demonstration of the artist’s belief that the goal of art was perfect mimesis, an imitation of the natural world so exact that it could deceive even experienced viewers.

Zoom into the painting here (using Zoomify, Macromedia Flash required):