Trompe L’oeil

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

trompe l’oeil (French for “that which deceives the eye”) had its origin in classical Greece and Rome and refers to the depiction of people, objects, or scenes rendered with such meticulous, three-dimensional exactitude that they appear to be real. Simultaneously witty, amusing, and intellectual, trompe l’oeil engages spectators, raising philosophical questions about the very definitions of art and perception. And it embraces not only painting, sculpture, architecture, and the decorative arts, but the culinary arts as well—reaching far above and beyond the mock apple pie recipe on the back of a Ritz Cracker box, a “dirt cake” made from crushed chocolate cookies and presented in a flowerpot (gummy worms optional), or a fondant-swathed custom creation that is more performance piece than dessert.