Ecole Jean Sablé
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What could be more ingenious than using painted decor to add value to architecture?
Don't trust appearances when you visit the Palace of Versailles. The Hercules Salon is not all it may seem with a marble statue on one of the ceiling edges. Unless it's a painting? In the Venus Salon, the painting by Jacques Rousseau opens the room onto a decor in perspective.
The Queen's Theatre within the Petit Trianon is a luxurious room in wood painted in false, veined white marble and decorated with pasteboard sculptures! The Queen's Dairy uses trompe l'oeil effects on its walls and ceilings to transform a simple stone wall into marble.
The town of Versailles at its best! In the 17th and 18th centuries, there was a shortage of limestone and facing brick was not produced. Masonry in millstone blocks was therefore coated in a plaster and lime mix with a red ochre dye to imitate brick, and daubed in yellow ochre to resemble stone. The fake brick joints were hollowed out and filled with white plaster. The dimensions of the fake bricks vary over time: the large dimensions under Louis XIV continue to get smaller until they disappear towards the end of the reign of Louis XV (the Neoclassical style finally replaces this fake brick composition).
This strict composition in the style of the facade sometimes led owners to include false windows: you can see this at 22 Rue de Satory.
At 2 Rue Saint-Julien, the beautiful dressed stone facade of the Louis XV Hôtel des Postes has been decorated with an obelisk including a trompe l’œil letter box. Not far away at Rue Mazière, three false shop facades in the 18th-century style decorate a blind wall. At 2 Rue Carnot, you'll be tempted to open the cellar door in front of which stands a life-like magpie.
Make a detour to the costume hire store at Rue des Deux-Portes. Then try to flush out those policemen dressed in 18th century uniforms watching the comings and goings of passers-by through a telescope on Avenue de Paris.
Finally, on Rue de la Reine you can see the fables of La Fontaine on the street furniture.
Several art colleges continue the tradition of trompe l'oeil to this day: the Ecole d'Art Mural and the Ecole Jean Sablé. So keep your eyes peeled as you walk around the town – this is not a complete list of all the trompe l'oeil artwork to be found!