Trompe l'oeil, Charles Henry Theodore Costantini
  • Artist
    Charles Henry Theodore Costantini
  • Born
    1803
  • Died
    post 1860
  • Title
    Trompe l'oeil
  • Date of Production
    c.1847
  • Medium
    watercolour
  • Dimensions
    519 x 409 mm
  • Credit Details
    Purchased with assistance from the Caltex-Victorian Government Art Fund, 1980

Charles Henry Theodore Costantini

Trompe l'oeil

Born in Paris of Italian descent, Constantini was transported to Australia twice - once to New South Wales in 1823 for forgery and then to Van Diemen's Land in 1827 for stealing two £5 notes.  Granted a free certificate in 1834, Constantini is best known for his portraits but he also produced this Trompe l'oeil that includes many personal tokens: the artist's writing card, the dual astrological signs under which he was born, an Italian landscape, and cartoons.

The Trompe l' oeil or 'trick of the eye" style of painting was used in Italy as early as the 15th Century and became a device that demonstrated the artist's mastery of the laws of perspective as well as his ability to replicate nature. A popular genre in both Europe and America in the early 19th Century, this rare  Australian example could not have been executed before June 1847 because the two signatures on the Union Bank note were not used before this date.