Special Exhibition The Deceived Eye – Textile Effects and their Simulation 28 April to 10 November 2024

The illusionistic depiction of textiles was an expression of consummate artistry even in ancient painting. The same can be said of weaving, tapestry, and embroidery, in which other textiles are simulated with great skill. Examples from the fourth to the seventeenth centuries vividly illustrate their artful play of materials, techniques and the viewer’s expectations. Press Release

The Image and Reproductions of Motifs

A fabric with a repeating pattern is obviously valuable because it could only have been woven on a complex loom. Its representation requires only the regular repetition of the same motifs. This then becomes a cipher for a sumptuous cloth. | Detail of a minstrel scene, Strasbourg, 1500–1510, wool and silk tapestry, inv. no. 2396

Simulating Textile Effects

Each textile technique can create special effects. Sometimes the look of one technique is imitated by another. For example, there are velvets with a pattern of gold motifs that are embroidered rather than woven, and fine velvets can be simulated in tapestries. | Detail of a pluvial, velvet: Italy; gold embroidery: Spain (?), 1430–1450, inv. no. 4266

Textile Trompe l’œils

Artistic optical illusions are not just a demonstration of superlative craftsmanship; they are also a path to contemplation. Trompe I’œils help to cross the threshold between the pictorial space and the space occupied by the viewer. | Tapestry with Mary and child, Brussels, early sixteenth century, wool, silk and metal threads, inv. no. 5760

Sharpening the Eye

The objects on display are prime examples of textile trompe l’œils that invite the viewer to take a closer look. Discovering the sophisticated motifs, technical and illusionistic effects of one textile genre in another is always a surprise and a profound visual pleasure. | Drapery (detail of a tapestry), Touraine, around 1500, wool and silk threads, inv. no. 1545