25 mind-bending trompe l'oeil illusions

Put simply, trompe l'oeil is the art of illusion. And the images we've brought together here will seriously make you question your eyes.

Trompe l'oeil (trick of the eye) is the term used for the technique of using realistic imagery to create an optical illusion of depth. Artists have been practising it for centuries to create stunning illustrations and fool their audience. And these brilliant examples of trompe l'oeil are no exception. Prepare to be amazed!

01. Indoor wilderness

Trompe l oeil Daniela Benedini

Daniela creates stunning indoor murals that transport you into the great outdoors

Italian artist Daniela Benedini founded her own individual company in 1994, after graduating as "Mastro Pittore" at the Painting Academy of Brera in Milan. Specialising in interior decoration, she creates beautiful trompe l’oeil paintings, collaborating with some of the most prestigious interior designers in the world.

02. Carroll Street Bridge

Trompe l oeil Carroll St bridge Maryland

Symbols gathered from thousands of residents and other participants appear in the artwork, interpreting commonalities and giving the bridge a collective voice.

Situated over Carroll Creek in Frederick, Maryland, USA, this award-winning trompe l'oeil mural depicts the spirit of community. The large-scale mural project transformed a plain concrete bridge into the permanent illusion of an old, ivy-covered stone bridge.

Artist William Cochran and his assistants used permanent silicate paints to create the highly detailed illusionist painting, complete with fake niches, fountains and statues, and 3,000 unique painted stones.

03. Portland's peeling blueprint

Trompe l oeil Portland s peeling blueprint

Known for it's hipster culture, Portland, Oregan, is a hub for the arts and features more than just one stunning trompe l'oeil mural

Originally painted in 1986 by Chris Denison, C. Michael Lewis, Toni Wolf, Josephine Mussomeli, Steven Priestly and Bertelle Brookings the peeling blueprint is perhaps one of the cleverer takes on trompe l'oeil, and has become a local landmark. The mural creates the illusion that there is a giant blueprint of the building peeling off of one side of it, revealing the actual building underneath.

04. Floating shapes

Trompe l oeil Felice Varini

Swiss-born artist Felice Varini creates mindblowing, geometric trompe l'oeil installations

Felice Varini is a Swiss born artist based in Paris. For over 30 years now, he's been creating remarkable geometric trompe l'oeil installations around the world. Painting primarily on architectural spaces such as buildings and walls, each of his works has a single vantage point in which a precise geometric shape appears. Genius.

05. The Crevasse

Trompe l oeil Edgar Mueller

Don't. Look. Down

German street painter Edgar Mueller is a master of fun trompe l'oeil work – this crevasse piece being a perfect example. Mueller's website is filled with awe-inspiring images of incredibly detailed and realistic street paintings, which include waterfalls, trees and caves. We know this trompe l'oeil artwork isn't real but that wouldn't stop us thinking twice before standing on it.

06. House party

Trompe l oeil Ciaran Brennan

Artist Ciaran Brennan really got into the party spirit, painting this trompe l'oeil on the outside of his house

Artist Ciarán Brennan a.k.a. Yohan, went all out for his house party by painting this trompe l'oeil illusion of balloons spilling out on the walls outside. He comments on his piece, "I didn't get to finish it completely, I wanted to paint the inside of the house through the hole in the wall but I ended up just making it dark."

07. Roundstone St

Trompe L Oeil Withsire

This trompe l'oeil in Wiltshire is said to be the largest in the UK

Located in Roundstone St in Trowbridge, UK, this trompe l'oeil is thought to be the biggest in the country. The realistic house design, created by artist Roger Smith and Wiltshire Steeplejacks, was installed on the blank wall in October 2003 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Trowbridge civic society.

08. Dining table

Trompe l oeil dining table

Ian Carnie's dining table features a realistic place mat, cutlery, jigsaw puzzle and much more

This dining table looks like it needs a good tidy. However, attempting it wouldn't get you very far as the objects are in fact oil paintings on top of the wood. This brilliant piece was created by fine artist and interior decorator Ian Carnie, who specialises in decorative and landscape trompe l'oeil murals.

09. Great American Crossroad

Trompe l oeil Great American crossroad

This Great American Crosroad is one of many trompe l'oeil pieces created by artist Eric Grohe

Eric Grohe began his creative career as an illustrator and graphic designer back in 1961. Since then, his work has grown in scope and size, leading to the large-scale trompe l’oeil murals he creates today. Using specialist German paint, which crystallizes into mineral substrates and will not fade, peel or blister, Grohe has painted artwork all over the US, including this brilliant piece, titled Great American Crossroad, located in Ohio.

10. The Canebière

Trompe l oeil Pierre Delavie

Artist Pierre Delavie recreates Marseille's most historic street on the facade of the Palais de la Bourse

A specialist in urban illusion, visual artist, painter, videographer and musician, Pierre Delavie is the man behind this giant trompe l'oeil located on the facade of the Palais de la Bourse in Marseille, France. The brilliant scene shows the Canebière – the historic high street in the old quarter of Marseille – passing right through the building.

11. Trompe l'oeil bench

trompe l rsquo oeil bench

Upholstered or carved? Another sleek design from the team at Rüskasa

Taiwanese company Rüskasa's hand-built RU-ST007 bench features a trompe l'oeil effect on the seat, looking as if it's upholstered when it's actually carved to just look like that. Clever, eh?

12. Fresque du Petit-Champlain

Trompe l oeil Fresque du Petit Champlain

Quebec is home to some amazing trompe l'oeil artwork, including this Fresque du Petit-Champlain piece

Quebec is home to some amazing trompe l'oeil artwork. One such example is this Fresque du Petit-Champlain, which can be found in Old Quebec, at the foot of Escalier Casse-Cou (Breakneck Steps) and along one of the oldest streets in North America. The mind-blowing piece depicts depicts milestones in the city's history, from the beginnings of New France until the present day.

13. Honda commercial

Packed full of optical illusions and illustrations, this brilliant commercial for Honda was created by UK ad agency mcgarrybowen. Want to see how it was done? Well, you're in luck as the car giants have also put up a behind-the-scenes video to make sense of the trompe l'oeil madness.

14. Bookcase

Trompe l oeil Paul Stephen Czainski

This amazing piece is one of many trompe l'oeil artworks by artist Paul Stephen Czainski

Hard to believe, we know. But there's no way you'd be able to read this set of books for they are, in fact, a brilliant example of trompe l'oeil art. Created by professional trompe l'oeil painter, muralist and illustrator Paul Stephen Czainski, this is just one of many amazing pieces by the talented artist.

15. René Magritte Museum

Trompe l oeil Rene Magritte

This amazing trompe l'oeil art features building facades as theatre curtains, pleated open to reveal a masterpiece from René Magritte

Back in 2009, a new museum, dedicated to the Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte, opened in Brussels. The building that housed this famous painter's work had its facade recreated in trompe l'oeil, featuring two side of theatre curtains pleated open to reveal a giant reproduction of iconic work of Magritte: The Empire of Light (1954).

Next page: 10 more amazing examples of trompe l'oeil