Google’s Cultural Institute recently gained more artworks for its online collections, including a new assortment of pieces that challenge the visual perceptions of viewers.
“At the Cultural Institute we’ve been taking a break from our holiday shopping to feast our eyes on a different kind of gift—the gift of ingenious art that plays tricks on our eyes,” wrote Simon Rein, the program manager of the Cultural Institute, in a recent post on the Google Official Blog. “Called Trompe l’oeil, which means ‘fool the eye’ in French, these techniques require complete control over every detail of size, color, light and gradation of color so that a two-dimensional work appears to be three-dimensional.”
Several examples of this phenomenon are visible among the new content that was recently launched by 34 global partners on the Cultural Institute Website, wrote Rein. The online institute features a collection of more than 57,000 artworks.
The Google Cultural Institute hosts marvelous online collections of artworks and cultural treasures that are in hundreds of museums, cultural institutions and archives around the world, according to the group. Google created the organization to help show the collections virtually to people around the globe.
“Trompe l’oeil has been used on things as large as a ceiling,” as in a fresco at the National Archaeological Museum of Ferrara in Italy, “which uses clever architectural form to momentarily confuse,” wrote Rein. The eye trickery has also been seen in something as small as a vase, as in a piece from the 1700s on display at the Ephrussi de Rothschild Villa & Gardens in Italy, he wrote. “Sometimes the trickery lies in the deft organization of the elements in the picture,” such as in the 1891 painting, Caprice, by Bernardino Montañés Pérez, which is in the Museo de Huesca in Spain.
“Other new works exhibit a similar visual trickery,” including a relic from the Qing dynasty that resides in National Palace Museum of Taiwan, wrote Rein. In the piece, called Jadeite Cabbage, the cabbage in the artifact almost looks good enough to eat, he wrote, which tricks the viewer.
The Google Cultural Institute includes the Art Project, with some 40,000 images of world-renowned and community-based artworks from over 40 countries; the World Wonders Project, which includes images of modern and ancient world heritage sites from around the world using Street View, 3D modelling and other Google technologies; and archive exhibitions featuring massive collections of information from institutions and museums the world over, much of which cannot always be put on public display, according to Google.
In November, the Google Cultural Museum showcased the five handwritten versions of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address online in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of his famous and moving 272-word speech. The five versions were placed online in a special gallery for viewers to read and review. Five different copies of the Gettysburg Address were written by Lincoln and given to five different people, each named for the person to whom they were given, according to AbrahamLincolnOnline.org.
Visitors to the Google gallery can see all five versions, named for Col. Alexander Bliss, John Nicolay, John Hay, Edward Everett and George Bancroft. Two of the versions were presented before Lincoln delivered his speech, and the other three were presented later to their recipients, according to the site.
On the Google site, visitors can see how the five versions differ and can see the copy of the Gettysburg Address that hangs in the Lincoln Bedroom in the White House. Visitors can also explore several multimedia exhibits created by Lincoln historians for more context about the speech and Lincoln’s words.
Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address on Nov. 19, 1863, as he looked over the battlefield to dedicate the Soldiers’ National Cemetery on the site. The speech came almost five months after the Union forces defeated the Confederate armies at Gettysburg in a huge turning point in the Civil War.
Less than two years after his Gettysburg speech, Lincoln was shot by assassin John Wilkes Booth while watching a play at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 1865, and he died of his injuries the next day. He was 56 years old. Lincoln was buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Ill.