Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

Sixth Sense? Allegories of Senses in Painting

Jan Brueghel the Elder and Peter Paul Rubens, The allegory of sight, 1617, Museo del Prado, Madrid

Symbols

Sixth Sense? Allegories of Senses in Painting

How to show our sensual experiences visually? The human senses made out one of the most appealing subjects for European painters, especially that since the Middle Ages they had rather negative connotations, being considered as lustful and hence leading to sin. And as we all know, forbidden fruit is the sweetest. See the senses in painting!

Senses in Painting
Theodoor Rombouts, Allegory of the Five Senses, 1632, The Museum of Fine Arts Ghent, Belgium.

Senses in Painting: Taste

Senses in Painting
Johann Glöckler, Allegory of the Sense of Taste, 1621, National Museum in Wrocław, Poland.

The senses were initially represented symbolically in genre scenes. For example, Dutch painters used the biblical story of the prodigal son, who was illustrated in crowded inns drinking and smoking, in order to warn the viewers of the trappings that the joy of the senses prepares. It was also a good excuse to present a skill in capturing facial expressions and still lifes, something that was very popular in the Netherlands. We can see examples of such paintings in Simon de Vos and David Teniers the Younger.

Touch

Johann Glöckler, Allegory of the Sense of Touch, 1621, National Museum in Wrocław, Poland.

The theme was especially popular in Flanders and the Netherlands of the 17th century. Old masters specialized in large-format allegories and small cabinet picture cycles. The French also liked the theme, but their approach was different, since the 1620s/30s they interpreted the theme in still-life painting. The examples can be seen in the oeuvres of Jacques Linard and Louise Moillon who were associated with a group of Protestant artists in Paris.

Smell

Senses in Painting
Johann Glöckler, Allegory of the Sense of Smell, 1621, National Museum in Wrocław, Poland.

From the 17th to 19th century, the allegorical was gradually displaced by the narrative. Works by Philip van Dijk, Luca Giordano, Gerard de Lairesse, or Jacob Duck showed people having fun, playing music, flirting. Although they still conveyed the concealed allusions to the individual senses, nobody knew whether they were made for edification of the viewer, or for a simple joy of looking at them.

Senses in Painting
William-Adolphe Bougereau, A girl, 1868, Villa Vauban, Luxembourg.

Sight

Cornelis de Vos, Soldiers and courtesans in a tent, 1635, Musee de Picardie, Amiens, France
Senses in Painting
Simon de Vos, A scene of gallantry, 1640, Flander Museum, Cassel, France.


Magda, art historian and Italianist, she writes about art because she cannot make it herself. She loves committed and political artists like Ai Weiwei or the Futurists; like Joseph Beuys she believes that art can change us and we can change the world.

Comments

More in Symbols

  • Sister Wendy's 100 Best-loved Paintings cover Sister Wendy's 100 Best-loved Paintings cover

    Art State of Mind

    Book Review: Sister Wendy’s 100 Best-loved Paintings

    By

    Late last year, the art world mourned the death of Sister Wendy Beckett (1930-2018), the quirky British nun who became a world-wide sensation as a television art commentator. Little did we know that the good sister had one last treat in store for us. SPCK recently...

  • Art State of Mind

    The Art in Friends TV Series

    By

    Who doesn’t love Friends? Without a doubt, it is one of the most watched and most loved TV series in history. We all know about this group of best buds and their hangout spot, Central Perk. Huge coffee mugs, a variety of sweets, a decoration that...

  • 20th century

    Disney Figures in Art that Make You Think Twice

    By

    Who doesn’t like Disney characters? They are cute, sweet, and adorable. They also represent an ideal image and simplify our world view. That’s fine in children’s movies, but some artists use Disney characters to portray their criticism of society. Karin Hanssen places her realistically painted characters...

  • 20th century

    The Works of Yves Klein: Lover of Blue

    By

    Yves Klein was born in late April of 1928 in Nice, France. His mother, Marie Raymond, was a renowned member of the Art Informel movement, which involved abstract styles and gesture painting. His father, Fred Klein, was known for his landscapes in a Post-Impressionist style. While...

  • 20th century

    100 Years of Bauhaus. It’s Dance Time: The Triadic Ballet

    By

    2019 celebrates 100 years of Bauhaus. Widely known for their iconic design and contributions to the art world, Bauhaus concepts also extended into dance. Not as well known as their crafts, the dances nevertheless, encompassed the values and constructs of the workshop: modernity, geometry, experimentation and...

To Top

Just to let you know, DailyArt Magazine’s website uses cookies to personalise content and adverts, to provide social media features and to analyse traffic. Read cookies policy