- Reference number
- Ribera, José de (Spanish)
- The Blind Sculptor, or Allegory of Touch
- 125 cm x 98 cm
- On display
- Royal Collection
In this more than half-length portrait, the figure is shown caressing the head of a classical sculpture, probably of Apollo. The most widely-accepted interpretation of this is that it represents the sense of touch, as this Valencian artist frequently painted series of works on the five senses.
During the eighteenth century, it was considered a portrait of the blind sculptor Giovanni Gomelli de Gambazzo, but this theory can be rejected because that artist was not even thirty when this painting was made. It was also thought to be a representation of the philosopher Carneades who, after losing his sight, was still able to recognize a bust of the god Pan by touch. It is probably a representation of the sense of touch, using the story of Carneades as its narrative vehicle. This was a very successful procedure during that period, when portraits of ancient philosophers were associated with allegories of the senses.
This work's exact origins are unknown, but it was documented as being in El Escorial in 1764. From there, it entered the Prado Museum in 1837.