Inventory number
P01398
Author
Brueghel the Elder, Jan; Rubens, Peter Paul
Title
Touch
Chronology
1617 - 1618
Technique
Oil
Support
Panel
Dimensions
64 cm x 111 cm
School
Flemish
Theme
Allegory
On display
Yes
Provenance
Colección Real (Real Alcázar, Madrid, Armería, 1734, nº 142; Palacio Real, Madrid, cuarto del mayordomo mayor, 1814-1818, s.n.)

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”.

Reubens 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.

A group of blacksmiths protected by a wall in ruins, a visual metaphor of Vulcan's forge, cast metals into cannons and other weapons while a falcon flies over them with its prey. Birds, which usually perch on an allegorical figure's hand, are signs of the iconography of touch.

Across from the “weapons graveyard”, are Venus and Love, allegories of touch through physical contact. The turtle beside the platter of grapes and grape leaves also symbolizes touch.

 
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