CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Painted illusions: the art of Cornelius Gijsbrechts

Exhibition: 2 February - 1 May 2000

From the museum website

The National Gallery celebrated the art of deception in the exhibition Painted illusions: the art of Cornelius Gijsbrechts. For the first time, a celebrated group of paintings by this remarkable artist – normally exhibited in the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen – were seen in London.

The name of Cornelius Gijsbrechts is an unfamiliar one for many visitors to the National Gallery and yet he was one of the most important painters of illusionistic (‘trompe l’oeil’) pictures in European art. He is a mysterious figure, about whose life little is known. Probably born in Antwerp in the earlier part of the 17th century, he came to prominence for a brief four-year spell in 1668–72 when he moved to Copenhagen. There he was enthusiastically taken up by the Danish court, working for two kings of Denmark: Frederik III and Christian V. Both kings were fascinated by artistic trickery and formed an extraordinary collection of ‘trompe-l’oeil’ paintings, peepshows, anamorphoses and other illusionistic works by many different artists. Frederik III and, after his death in 1670, Christian V built a royal art gallery, or ‘kunstkammer’, and one room of it (the ‘perspektivkammer’) was devoted to such images designed to astonish and deceive the viewer.


Illusions: Gijsbrechts, royal master of deception
Olaf Koester, with contributions by Celeste Brusati, Jorgen Hein, Günter Herzog, Ekkehard Mai, Mette Bjarnhof and Lone Bogh
Catalogue of an exhibition held in 1999 in Copenhagen (Statens Museum) and in 2000 in London (National Gallery)
319 pp.
Copenhagen (Statens Museum for Kunst) 1999
ISBN 87-90096-30-4 (Danish edition, softbound)
ISBN 87-90096-32-0 (English edition, softbound)

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