from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A style of painting that gives an illusion of photographic reality.
  • n. A painting or effect created in this style.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A genre of still life painting that exploits human vision to create the illusion that the subject of the painting is real.
  • n. A painting of this kind.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a painting rendered in such great detail as to deceive the viewer concerning its reality


French trompe l'œil : trompe, third person sing. present tense of tromper, to deceive + le, the + œil, eye.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From the French trompe-l’œil ("trompe l’oeil", literally "deceives the eye"), from trompe (“deceives”, the third-person singular indicative simple present form of tromper, “to deceive”) + l’ (“t’”, the prevocalic form of le, “the”) + œil ("eye"). (Wiktionary)


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  • See also Trompe-l'œil.

    October 23, 2008

  • A French term literally meaning "trick the eye." Sometimes called illusionism, it's a style of painting which gives the appearance of three-dimensional, or photographic realism. It flourished from the Renaissance onward. The discovery of linear perspective in fifteenth-century Italy and advancements in the science of optics in the seventeenth-century Netherlands enabled artists to render object and spaces with eye-fooling exactitude. Both playful and intellectually serious, trompe artists toy with spectators' seeing to raise questions about the nature of art and perception. (From ArtLex)

    June 5, 2008