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  • Grahame Menage

classical elegance at home in new orleans

New Orleans interior designer Rosemary James commissioned me to design and hand paint neo-classical trompe l’œil panels for every transom panel in her uptown home.

Trompe l’œil (French for “deceives the eye”) is a type of optical illusion used to trick the eye into thinking that a flat surface, like a wall, is actually three-dimensional. This technique is often achieved through photorealistic painting, and careful use of perspective. (Fun fact: While the term became popular in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, examples of the technique date back to as early as 70 AD in Pompeii.)

I developed three different designs; one of Diana - her Roman name - or Artemis in Greek. Images always show her wearing a crescent on her head, with a quiver of arrows, bow and a hunting dog at her feet - as she was known as the Goddess of the Moon and called "The Huntress”.

The second design was a putto (or cherub) among acanthus swirls, and the third design was of a quiver and arrows; all in the creamy stone color and gray-green.

I painted all of the panels in my studio, before heading to New Orleans to install them. I painted a total of 30 panels, of which 27 were used in the end. The panels have been a great on-going project for me; something to focus on during the pandemic between on-site jobs.

Now that they have been installed you can see the effect is dramatic. I'll hopefully be able to share more photos of the finished interior design soon.


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