What is Trompe l’oeil?

This might seem like an odd detour but recently I was in Israel and one of the places I visited was Herodium – a palace built by the notorious King Herod prior to his death in 4 BC. The lavish palace décor included walls painted with the technique called ‘trompe l’oeil’ to appear like luxurious marble finishes and landscape paintings framed with painted shutters to give the illusion of both ‘hanging pictures’ and windows opening on to classical landscapes.¹

It was a reminder to me of how much people have enjoyed these kind of visual ‘tricks’ or illusions for centuries. ‘Trompe l’oeil’ is French for ‘to deceive the eye’. The concept is more common than you might think, as it is used today to create surfaces such as vinyl that imitates wood flooring and laminate bench tops that look like stone. For the more adventurous decorator there are off-the-shelf printed wallpapers available. But looking at my holiday photos of the faded but still charming paintings at Herodium inspired me to think about commissioning an artist to create something completely one-off.

Here are some suggestions:

  • A window framing your favourite view – Tuscany perhaps, or a beach sunset from a treasured holiday.
  • Bookcases – libraries with real books are important but fake ones can look spectacular!
  • An architectural element such as a niche or a colonnade that creates the illusion of more space.

With all the street artists creating wonderful realistic paintings on silos in Queensland, there certainly is potential here. Why not get in touch with me and see if we can create a trompe l’oeil feature for your home?



  1. Michaela Hill on February 6, 2023 at 3:23 pm

    Wonderful idea Coralie- just like people have done since they picked up a paintbrush, or decorated their cave. I hope your venture has many takers. You certainly have the eye for design and style.

    • coralie stow on February 6, 2023 at 3:30 pm

      Thank you Michaela! I’m glad you like the idea.

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