Inventory number
Brueghel the Elder, Jan; Rubens, Peter Paul
1617 - 1618
64 cm x 111 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 142; Palacio del Buen Retiro, Madrid, pinturas entregadas en dhas. Casas Arzobispales a Dn. Santiago de Bonabia, 1747, nº 142; Palacio Nuevo, Madrid, Gabinete colgado de verde, 1772, nº 142; 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 388)

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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