|Dominique Doncre, Trompe l'oeil, 1785|
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Arras
The painting seems to be just a virtuoso piece, no hidden moral, with no lurking vanitas messages.
Doncre was a prolific producer of decorative pieces, trompe l'oeil, still life, grisaille and the like, but this is one of the few pictures on display and generally acknowledged as one of his best. We know that the young Boilly, later an accomplished trompe l'oeil artist, was in Arras at the time though whether he was a pupil or rival is not quite clear; in either case Doncre may have felt the need to display his mastery.
Trompe l'oeil was particularly associated in the 17th and 18th centuries with the Low Countries and Northern France. Doncre himself was Flemish in origin and may have studied in Antwerp. The Musée des Beaux-Arts in Arras has this splendid, and much earlier work by Jean-François de Le Motte dating from 1667, which is very similar to Doncre's composition.