Trompe L’oeil Yacht commission- By international mural artist Richard Bagguley

Trompe L’oeil Yacht commission- By international mural artist Richard Bagguley

The earliest account of trompe l’oeil comes from ancient Greece, where a contest took place
between two prominent artists, Zeuxis and Parrhasius. The story goes that Zeuxis painted
grapes with such skill that birds flew down to peck at them.

Trompe-l’œil French for ‘”deceive the eye”‘ is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to
create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions. Forced perspective
is a comparable illusion in architecture.


I have been using trompe l’oeil in my mural work for at least 15 years and enjoy it immensely.
I recently had a request from the office of one of my Turkish clients to fly over to meet them to
discuss potential mural projects aboard his newly acquired yacht which was being refurbished in
drydock in Istanbul.

The commission for this part of the project concerned the dining room of the boat, for technical
reasons one wall could not have any windows/portholes therefore not allowing any natural light
or ocean views into one side of the room.

The solution we came up with was to create two painted trompe l’oeil windows/portholes
(illusory windows) in which I would paint scenes looking out to sea.


The first was to have a view of the self same ship sailing alongside, creating the illusion for the
dinners that the ship they were eating in was sailing away, the second was to be more
humorous and depicting a cleric rowing a rhinoceros.

The real trick with these mini murals is to use the trompe l’oeil technique to make the portholes
look very real, to trick the eye into believing what is perceived is real, for this to work a lot of
attention is put into getting the details just right.

To get my source material I photographed the existing portholes on the boat in large format and
looked for good shots of the exterior of the boat and the found reference for the subject matter
for the second trompe l’eoil.

Once this was done and I had the correct scale I started work in my
studio in London painting in acrylic on synthetic canvas that could be later transported.

When the trompe l’oeil paintings in the studio were finished I flew back to Istanbul and the
the canvas was cut to the exact size of the panels and pasted onto the wall creating instant Trompe
l’oeil portholes with a view of the ocean very realistic and amusing.

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