Notes from Ebert-Schifferer, Sybille. Deceptions and Illusions: Five Centuries of Trompe l’Oeil Painting. Washington DC: National Gallery of Art, 2002.
When does trompe l’oeil succeed
Trompe l’oeil objects succeed if in the proper context – people will believe it more if they are expecting to see it or if it makes sense in that setting. “…the momentary success of the artifice depends on the viewer’s expectation that the object will be found in a specific context – which is lost in a museum setting of course.” Fitting settings for the paintings in Verso might be the artists studio or museum storage.
Still life details
The notes, stamps, pieces of paper on traditional trompe l’oeil works are similar to the exhibit labels on the Verso works.
“Seemingly innocuous rack pictures could in fact belie the charge that still life, unlike history painting, did not relate a narrative. Like most trompe l’oeil painters up until the time of Boilly, they did this by making reference to the status of art and artist.”
With Verso the narrative becomes the history of the object as recorded by the exhibit labels and wear.
“‘The Back of a Picture’ is the most radical representation of this paradox [the object of this painting is the painting as an object] because here the painting’s outline and format collapse into each other.”
“They simulate a reality that lacks ‘only’ the three-dimensionality that would make them indistinguishable from real objects, a plasticity fabricated by interior shading.”
“Gijsbrechts’ ‘Back of a Picture’ differs from a ready-made solely – although certainly decisively – in being a painted reverse.”