Hearing and Smell, Rubens and Brueghel

Hearing and Smell, Rubens and Brueghel
Hearing and Smell, Rubens and Brueghel

The rivalries between artists is something well known to all in terms of the anecdotes that often dot the lives of painters of all time, however it is also true that on many occasions the artists of the same era worked together hand in hand and not only in large companies such as the decoration of a palace or a church in which each one had their own spaces, but in much smaller formats where it was necessary for the painters to work simultaneously, agreeing on the scheme and composition of the work, something clearly much more difficult but not impossible.


The works that we analyze are one of those examples in which two artistic geniuses work together combining their art to give rise to a beautiful production, they are a total of five oil-painted panels in horizontal format in which the allegory of the five senses although this time we will only refer to two of them, the tables that represent the sense of Ear and Smell. The collaboration for the creation of him was carried out between two great artists of the Flemish Baroque school, Pedro Pablo Rubens and Jan Brueghel known by the nickname of Brueghel the Younger to differentiate him from his father, also a painter Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Rubens would be in charge of representing the figures of the allegories, in this case and following tradition, as beautifulhalf-naked women while Brueghel would be in charge of representing the stage and the necessary props to give the work a complete meaning.

It seems that the paintings were linked to the archdukes and governors of the Netherlands at that time, Isabel Clara Eugenia and Alberto, who were also great patrons of the Flemish school.

In the panel that represents The Ear we can see the goddess Venus who is situated in the center of the composition along with a little cupid and a deer, the traditional symbol of the ear. The goddess interrupts her song to turn to the viewer and make us part of the scene. The scene takes place in an interior where, thanks to a large loggia with three semicircular arches, it opens onto the gardens of the Palais Mariemont where the archdukes resided. The room is full of instruments that allude to the sense of hearing as well as an orchestra that is playing in a room at the back of the room.


On the other hand, in the canvas of Smell we find ourselves before an open space, this time an idyllic garden that once again has the goddess as the center of the composition, this time smelling flowers next to the cupid that accompanies it. In this canvas Brueghel developed a splendid work representing with great mastery the various flowers that adorn the canvas; different types and sizes of flowers have been represented by the artist who showed great skill in representing flora in several of his productions. At bottom we canobserve a fountain as well as some classicist architecture.

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