Painting non-visual experiences may seem like attempting the impossible, but many great artists have either been commissioned or felt compelled to do so. There are many well-known themes which are primarily non-visual; this article looks and sniffs at one of the toughest – smell.
At the same time that he was working with Rubens on that series, Brueghel was busy with Hendrick van Balen the Elder and Gerard Seghers on two paintings for presentation to Albert VII and Isabella, governors of the Spanish Netherlands. These show combinations of senses, here Allegory of Sight and Smell (c 1617-18).
This works as a précis of the full series, with the lower left devoted to smell, where there is an abundance of flowers, and a civet.
civetdogflowerswomenpainting3 artistsoil on panel
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