Click here for previous lectures

24 March 2020Deceiving the Eye - Trompe l'oeil Paintings
28 April 2020From Elizabeth to Elizabeth - Five Centuries of British Art
26 May 2020From Holbein to Byrd: Drawings, Paintings and Music
23 June 2020Passionate Potters - from De Morgan to Leach
28 July 2020A Passion for Victorian Wallpaper
22 September 2020Jane Austen: letters, life and lesser known works, with sketches and watercolours
27 October 2020A Concise History of our Great British Public Parks
24 November 2020Curves, Colours and Cool: An Introduction to Mid-Century Modern.

Click on a row and scroll to display more details about the lecture

Deceiving the Eye - Trompe l'oeil Paintings Sian Walters Tuesday 24 March 2020

The term trompe l’oeil was not used until the 19th century (in order to refer to illusionistic painting in general) but the intriguing game of simulation designed to foster the illusion of reality can be traced all the way back to the Classical era.

The most famous written example comes from Pliny the Elder with his charming description of a competition between two well-known Greek painters Zeuxis and Parrhasius, who attempted to fool each other with the brilliant realism of their works, an anecdote which continued to inspire artists for hundreds of years.

This fascinating lecture traces the history of the technique and defines what exactly constitutes a trompe l’oeil painting (not as easy as it might seem), looking at many extraordinary and entertaining examples from the masters of illusion in Flanders such as Memling and van Eyck, through Italian portraitists and Dutch still life specialists. We define and explore a number of specific techniques including anamorphosis and quadratura, as well as variations on a theme, such as the quod libet still life and peepshow, with particular reference to works in the National Gallery, London.

Sian Walters studied at Cambridge University and is a lecturer at the National Gallery and The Wallace Collection and taught at Surrey University, specialising in 15th and 16th century Italian painting, Spanish art & architecture, and the relationship between dance and art.

She also teaches private courses, and organises lectures, study days and art holidays abroad and has lived in France and Italy, where she worked at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice.