Thursday, December 3, 2009

Trompe l'oeil .. Lyrical Illusion - The Getty Villa Malibu

The Getty Villa - Malibu, California
Part I
The Malibu site opened in 1974 as the original J. Paul Getty Museum;
the architecture, patterned after the Villa dei Papiri,
a Roman country house dating to the first century. 
Restored Trompe l'oeil detail.

The Villa closed for renovation in 1997, just as The Getty Center opened to great fanfare in Los Angeles. By 2006 the cultural cognoscenti were abuzz! The Getty Villa reopened with stunning exhibition spaces, presenting an unparalleled showcase for Greco-Roman & Etruscan antiquities, and an overall stunning redesign by architects, Machado and Silvetti Associates.

The historically accurate Trompe l'oeil paintings of the Outer Peristyle garden are highlighted here. The luminous architecture of the Getty Villa, the landscape design & plantings, sculptural treasures, and classically arcadian gardens to follow in future posts.


 Long view of Outer Peristyle - ceiling adornment & inlaid design of walkway.

Draped garlands, decorated columns, and window cornices are among the peristyle's ornate elements.
The refined color palette of the Trompe l'oeil painting adds grace and beauty to the surroundings.


  1. Hello Alice,

    I love the landscaping along the pool and how the lines really draw your eye down the entire length.

  2. I think, if pushed, I could live there quite happily (apart from the tourists!). Adore the swimming pool shot - the water would be frozen here. Trompe L'oeil is amazing. Thanks for the tour xx

  3. Very beautiful but it looks as mysterious :)

  4. Gorgeous..always such a delight when you spotlight such beautiful spaces and intersting sights!Wonderful work...I enjoyed that!

  5. The Ghetty museum was closed for renovation when I lived there, and I never got the chance to see it after it re-opened. Thanks for the beautiful's now on my list of places to visit next year!

  6. Very pretty photos of a very pretty place! I love the fourth photo.

  7. Stunning details Alice ... your photos are a bit like Trompe l'oeil paintings ... in that they make me feel as if I were there. What is the story I wonder with the mask you have in your first shot and later? Carol

  8. That is a very impressive villa, but I can't imagine living there.

  9. I love me some trompe l'oeil, even though I can never spell it. :) Geez, just think about what we could do with all that moola? I bet your design would be even spiffier! Thanks for the tour. I have been to the new Getty but not this one. Something to add to the ever-growing SoCal list!

  10. Nice tour. Can you tell me, because I can't really tell, is the ceiling trompe l'oeil, or is it really built like that. Either way, it is spectacular!
    Thanks for sharing this.

  11. This looks an intriguing place! I've always been fascinated by trompe l'oeil paintings.

  12. Alice, I LOVE Trompe l'oeil. I painted for years and bought books on it but it's soooooo hard to get it right. I did have one I practiced on in my laundry room I was going to do but never did finish.
    Great post on beautiful art!

  13. A quick reply to all... Glad that you're enjoying the first stop on our tour of the Getty Villa.

    I mention in the Part II post that theatrical masks were a popular element in Roman times. Curious, eh?

    The ceiling details are, in fact, applied and dimensional, not painted to fool the eye!

    Any time you feel like another attempt at trompe l'oeil, please drop by my laundry room - it's begging to be beautified ;-0

    More to follow on the Getty Villa, a destination for any and all who love art, culture, and gardens on a rather grand scale.