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With the technological sponsorship of Samsung and the special collaboration of Puig and the Perfume Academy Foundation

For the first time, the Museo del Prado is linking painting to the sense of smell Monday, April 4, 2022

On display until 3 July in Room 83 of the Villanueva Building, The Sense of Smell, a painting by Jan Brueghel and Rubens, is the focus of The Essence of a Painting. An Olfactory Exhibition, curated by Alejandro Vergara, Chief Curator of Flemish Painting and the Northern Schools at the Museo Nacional del Prado, and Gregorio Sola, Senior Perfumer at Puig and an academician of the Perfume Academy, who has created ten fragrances associated with elements in the painting.

Brueghel’s work, which evokes the garden of rare trees and plants belonging to Isabel Clara Eugenia and her husband in early 17th-century Brussels, depicts more than 80 species of plants and flowers, as well as various animals associated with the sense of smell, such as the scent hound and civet, and a range of objects relating to the world of perfume, including scented gloves, vessels  holding fragrant substances, a perfume burner warmed in a sumptuous brazier, and vessels for distilling essences.

Video of the exhibition on the official YouTube channel of the Museo Nacional del Prado: https://youtu.be/0toAIMOfb5Y

For the first time, the Museo del Prado is linking painting to the sense of smell

From left to right: Miguel Falomir, Director of the Museo Nacional del Prado; Alejandro Vergara, Chief Curator of Flemish Painting and the Northern Schools at the Museo Nacional del Prado and curator of the exhibition; Gregorio Sola, Senior Perfumer at Puig and an academician of the Perfume Academy, curator of the exhibition; Javier Solana, Head of the Board of Trustees of the Museo Nacional del Prado; Camila Tomás, Puig, and Miguel Ángel Ruiz, Samsung, during the press conference. Photo © Museo Nacional del Prado.

The Essence of a Painting. An Olfactory exhibition represents a new approach to the Prado’s collections, on this occasion through the sense of smell. With this aim in mind, and with the technological sponsorship of Samsung, the special collaboration of the Perfume Academy Foundation and the “AirParfum” technology developed by Puig, the perfumer Gregorio Sola has created ten fragrances associated with elements present in the painting The Sense of Smell, part of the series on “The Five Senses” executed by Jan Brueghel in 1617 and 1618 in which the allegorical figures were painted by his friend Rubens.

It is the sense of smell that allows visitors to appreciate the different elements depicted in the painting. In order to achieve this Gregorio Sola, Senior Perfumer at Puig and a numerary academician at the Perfume Academy occupying the Sandalwood Chair, has created fragrances such as “Allegory”, which encourages viewers to focus on the small bouquet of flowers which the allegorical figure is smelling; “Gloves”, which reproduces the smell of gloves scented with ambergris, based on a formula of 1696; “Fig Tree”, and which leads us to spot the tree in the painting; and “Orange Blossom”, which directs the gaze towards the still used to obtain the plant extract. In total, ten fragrances which accompany the sense of sight and provide unique sensations for an appreciation of the painting.

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