Trompe-l'œil is an art technique involving extremely realistic imagery in order to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects appear in three dimensions.
Although the phrase has its origin in the Baroque period, when it refers to perspectival illusionism, use of trompe-l'œil dates back much further. It was (and is) often employed in murals. Instances from Greek and Roman times are known, for instance in Pompeii. A typical trompe-l'œil mural might depict a window, door, or hallway, intended to suggest a larger room.
A version of an oft-told ancient Greek story concerns a contest between two renowned painters. Zeuxis (born around 464 BC) produced a still life painting so convincing, that birds flew down from the sky to peck at the painted grapes.
Then Xeuxis was asked by his rival, Parrhasius, to pull back a pair of very tattered curtains in order to judge the painting behind them. Parrhasius won the contest, as his painting was of the curtains themselves.
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