Inventory number
Brueghel the Elder, Jan; Rubens, Peter Paul
64,7 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 llevaron a la Armeria, 1734, nº 144; Palacio del Buen Retiro, Madrid, pinturas entregadas en dhas. Casas Arzobispales a Dn. Santiago de Bonabia, 1747, nº 144; Palacio Nuevo, Madrid, Retrete del rey, 1772, nº 144; Palacio Nuevo, Quarto de la Reyna nra. sra. Tocador, 1794, s.n.; Palacio Nuevo, Cuarto del mayordomo mayor, 1814-1818, s.n., Museo Real de Pinturas a la muerte de Fernando VII, Madrid, Salon 2º Escuela Flamenca, 1834, nº 248)

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.

Sight was considered the most important of the senses since the time of Aristotle. Here, Cupid shows Venus a painting on a Christian theme, The Healing of the Blind Man, which alludes to the recovery of sight through one of Christ's miracles and thus touches on both physical and spiritual vision.

The presence of a canvas with Saint Cecilia, a copy of Raphael's original, alongside some Roman busts, recalls the soul's introspective vision, an image of chastity and virtue.

Jan Brueghel was a protégé of the Archdukes Alberto and Isabel Clara Eugenia, and in this work he includes their portraits and a view of their Palace at Mariemont.

This work is signed on a paper close to the goddess's seat.

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