Inventory number
Brueghel the Elder, Jan; Rubens, Peter Paul
1617 - 1618
64 cm x 109,5 cm
On display
Colección Real (Real Alcázar, Madrid, Pieza donde S. M. lee en el cuarto bajo, con vista al jardin de la priora, 1636, s.n.; Real Alcázar, Retiradico, 1666, nº 60; Real Alcázar, Pieça inmediata que llaman el Retiradico, 1686, s.n.; Real Alcázar, Pieza inmediata que llaman el Retiradico, 1701-1703, nº 318; Real Alcázar, Pinturas que se hallaron en las "Bobedas" de Palacio, 1734, nº 302; Palacio del Buen Retiro, Madrid, pinturas entregadas en dhas. Casas Arzobispales a Dn. Santiago de Bonabia, 1747, nº 302; Palacio Nuevo, Madrid, Paso de Tribuna y Trascuartos, 1772, nº 302; Palacio Nuevo, Segundo Gabinete, 1794, s.n.; Palacio Nuevo, Pieza verde de chimenea, 1814-1818, s.n., Museo Real de Pinturas a la muerte de Fernando VII, Madrid, Salon 2º Escuela Flamenca, 1834, nº 239)

This set of paintings on the five senses (Sight, P01394; Hearing, P01395; Smell, P01396; Taste, P01397; Touch, P01398) was one of the most successful collaborations of Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel “the elder.”

Rubens placed his figures in the magnificent courtly scenes created by Brueghel as settings for these allegories of the senses, resulting in a series of enormous quality and esthetic appeal. The subject was widely employed in Flemish painting.

Music, which is perceived through hearing, is the protagonist of this composition. Venus plays the lyre and sings, accompanied by a cupid. The stag at her side symbolizes hearing, as it love music so much that it lies down to listen.

On the pavement in the foreground is a rich still life of musical instruments and scores, on the left; and hunting calls, on the right.

The symbolism of hearing is strengthened by the pictorial representations that adorn the room's walls: Concert of the Muses, Orpheus Taming the Wild Beasts with Music, The Annunciation and Announcement to the Shepherds, on the top of the clavichord.

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