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The Lion Rampant Trompe L'Oeil.

Updated: Sep 24, 2022

I have a wonderful client here near Cambridge. He always comes up with the most delightful ideas I can paint for his business and even for his private home. He has named me his "Artist in Residence" and I am happily accepting this generous title! He recently asked me to improve two pargeted lion crests on his building near Cambridge which originates from the Tudor period. The building had just received a coat of teal paint and the lions, which were pargeted, onto the house walls (pargeting refers to the beautiful art of stuccoing walls, is unique to East Anglia and was originally used to break rainfall on the outside to save repeated limewashes. I will write a blogpost about this gorgeous form of wall design in the near future). The crests were in a dilapidated state, so I decided to add depths to the former three- dimensional shape by utilising a technique called trompe 'loeil (French: to fool the eye). The lions which are a family crest of arms are now very visible on the new house façade, greeting clients and staff alike.

The Lion Rampant

The lion was already painted red but the colour red as well as the blue of the façade are too close in value (the brightness of a colour) and hence the contrast was not strong enough to be sufficiently visible, neither from 4 metres below, nor when sitting directly in front of it, sitting on the scaffold. The solution was to paint a white background, in shape of the fallen off plaster crest, adding a trim that protrudes. As I used light and shadow at the appropriate sides. The darker blue on the left outside the crest is supposed to mimic a drop shadow. All colours for light and shadow were carefully mixed in order to achieve a realistic illusion of a 3-dimensional crest that also works with the true shadows and lights of the other elements on the façade.


Trompe l'oeils can be added to buildings and walls and are really quite a fun effect, certainly good for a conversation piece or starter.

You can find further trompe l'oeils here on my website under Portfolio/Hand Painted Walls.



Pargeted Lion Crest

As promised, here is the result and the stately Regency house with its illusionary (trompe l'oeil) pargeted crest with lion, looking crisp and confident.


If you are interested in pargeting, this link will lead you to more information until I researched the topic further: https://www.kettlenet.co.uk/the-history-of-pargeting/

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