Inventory number
P01396
Author
Brueghel the Elder, Jan; Rubens, Peter Paul
Title
Smell
Chronology
1617 - 1618
Technique
Oil
Support
Panel
Dimensions
65 cm x 111 cm
School
Flemish
Theme
Allegory
On display
Yes
Provenance
Colección Real (Real Alcázar, Madrid, Armería, 1734, nº 141).

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.

The figures of Venus and Cupid stand out in a paradisiacal orchard with a variety of flowers, including lilies, roses, hollyhocks and tulips.

This garden is a testimony to the Flemish love of flowers, a passion shared with Isabel Clara Eugenia, who ordered the planting of an enormous number of flowers and fruit trees evocative of her homeland.

Their fragrance triumphs over the disagreeable smell of the civet cat curled up next to Venus. Not even the fine nose of the dog notices its presence.

It is signed on the lower edge, at the right.

 
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