Monash University

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Trick or Truth? Trompe l’Oeil Painting and Illusionism in Eighteenth-, Nineteenth- and Twentieth- Century Discourses of Art.

posted on 2020-04-23, 23:46 authored by Anna Daly
Enlightenment theories of subjectivity, visuality and aesthetics have had a significant influence on the way in which trompe l’oeil and illusionistic artworks are understood. So too have the debates surrounding the emergence of photography and the modernist arguments identifying medium specificity with neo-Platonic concepts of pure form. Taken together, these discourses have contributed to an overall impression that trompe l’oeil and illusionism are forms of hyper-realistic representation that contrive, primarily, to deceive viewers. The following discussion questions the validity of that impression, chiefly by arguing that a capacity to ‘trick the eye’ is not the primary goal of a number of paintings deemed trompe l’oeil or illusionistic. In fact, as each chapter seeks to reveal, this way of comprehending such paintings can be attributed to historically specific concepts of subjectivity, visuality and aesthetics associated with the Enlightenment, modernity and modernism.


Principal supervisor

Luke Morgan

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Fine Art


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture