13 More
16 More
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection

The Five Senses: Sight, Touch, Hearing, Taste and Smell

The Five Senses: Sight, Touch, Hearing, Taste and Smell
oil on panel, Touch with the coat of arms of the city of Antwerp and the stamp of the panel maker Guilliam Aertssens (active 1612/13-1638?)
Sight and Smell, 27 5/8 x 44 5/8 in. (70.2 x 113.3 cm.); Hearing, 27 x 43 in. (68.6 x 109.2 cm.); Taste, 27 x 43 3/8 in. (68.6 x 110.1 cm.) and Touch, 27 3/8 x 44 5/8 in. (69.5 x 113.3 cm.)
(5)four with two sets of inventory numbers: the first with 'N75' and 'No:138.'; the second with 'N73' and 'No:153.'; the third with 'N7*' and 'No: 140' and the fourth with 'N..' and 'N 151' (all lower right)
a set of five
Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, Vienna (by 1720, then by descent in the Imperial Collection, deaccessioned by 1796).
Josef Karl Ritter von Klinkosch, Vienna (by 1873); Estate sale, Miethke, Vienna, 2 April 1889, lots 27-32 (as Jan Brueghel the Elder and Hendrick van Balen; with incorrect provenance from Archduke Leopold Wilhelm).
Isidore Ritter von Klinkosch (acquired at the above sale).
Baron Wodianer, Vienna (by 1906-1907).
Anon. sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 20 April 1907, lots 3-7 (as Jan Breughel the Elder and Hendrick van Balen).
Marino Vagliano (acquired at the above sale, then by descent).
Private collection; sale, Christie’s, New York, 3 October 2001, lot 98 (world auction record for the artist at the time of sale).
Acquired at the above sale by the late owner.
F. Storffer, Neu eingerichtes Inventarium der Kayl. Bilder Gallerie in der Stallburg welches nach denen Numeris und Maßstab ordiniret und von Ferdinand à Storffer gemahlen worden, 1720, vol. I, nos. 123, 131, 133, 142 and 144, a painted inventory of the Imperial Collections in Vienna, the original held in the archive of the Gemäldegalerie, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (as by Leux (sic Luyckx)).
A.J. von Prenner, Theatrum artis pictoriae, Vienna, 1728 (engraved, as attributed to Hans Jordaens).
A.J. von Prenner and F. van Stampart, Prodromus, 1735, a preliminary catalogue of the Imperial Collections of Austria in the Stallburg Gallery, Vienna.
Listed in the Inventarium über die in der Kaiserl. Königl. Bildergallerie vorhandenen Bilder und Gemälde, 1772, inv. nos. 128 (Smell), 138 (Sight), 140 (Touch), 151 (Hearing), and 153 (Taste), the original held in the archive of the Gemäldegalerie, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.
C. von Mechel, Verzeichnis der Gemälde der Kaiserlich Königlichen Bilder Gallerie in Wien, Vienna, 1783, p. 140, nos. 4-8 (as by Leux (sic Luyckx)).
A.J. von Prenner and F. van Stampart, "Prodromus (1735)" in Jahrbuch der Kunsthistorischen Sammlungen des Allerhöchsten Kaiserhauses, Vienna, 1888, vol. VII, pls. 6 and 7.
T. von Frimmel, Geschichte der Wiener Gemäldesammlungen, Leipzig and Berlin, 1899, p. 184.
E. Ebenstein, "Der Hofmaler Frans Luycx" in Jahrbuch der Kunsthistorische Sammlungen des Allerhöchsten Kaiserhauses, 1906-1907, vol. XXVI, pp. 216-218, nos. 123, 131, 133, 142 and 144.
T. von Frimmel, Lexikon der Wiener Gemäldesammlungen, Munich, 1914, vol. II, p. 404.
S. Speth-Holterhoff, Les Peintres Flamands de Cabinet D'Amateurs au XVIIe Siècle, Brussels, 1957, pp. 113-114 and 207, note 74 (as by Hans Jordaens).
M. Díaz Padrón, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de Pinturas, I, Escuela Flamenca, Siglo XVII, Madrid, 1975, pp. 40-46, under nos. 1394-1398.
K. Ertz, Jan Breughel der Jüngere (1601-1678): Die Gemälde mit kritischem Oeuvrekatalog, Freren, 1984, vol. I, pp. 69 and 344-348, nos. 178-183 (illustrated, pp. 344-345 and 347-348; Hearing illustrated in color, pl. 37).
A. Scarpa Sonino, Cabinet D'Amateur, Le Grandi Collezioni d'Arte nei Dipinti dal XVII al XIX Secolo, Milan, 1992, p. 22ff.
M. Díaz Padrón and M. Royo-Villanova, David Teniers, Jan Brueghel y Los Gabinetes de Pinturas, exh. cat., Madrid, 1992, pp. 133, 138 and 146, under nos. 11, 12 and 14.
M. Díaz Padrón, El Siglo de Rubens en el Museo del Prado. Catálogo Razonado de Pintura Flamenca del Siglo XVII, Madrid, 1995, vol, I, pp. 264-287, under nos. 1394-1398 (Sight illustrated, p. 264; Hearing illustrated, p. 274; Smell illustrated, p. 278; Taste illustrated, p. 280 and Touch illustrated, p. 284).
Vienna, Österreichisches Museum für Kunst und Industrie, Gemälde aus dem Wiener Privatbesitze, 1873, pp. 22-23, nos. 86-90.
Seattle, Experience Music Project, DoubleTake: From Monet to Lichtenstein, April 2006-January 2007.
Oregon, Portland Art Museum; Washington, D.C., The Phillips Collection; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; New Orleans Museum of Art and Seattle Art Museum, Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection, October 2015-May 2017, pp. 34-35, nos. 1-5 (illustrated in color, p. 35).
J.A. Prenner, Theatrum artes pictoriae (the earlier copies by Storffer are reproduced by Ebenstein, op. cit., pp. 192-193, figs. 9-13).
Special notice
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

Brought to you by

Max Carter
Max Carter Vice Chairman, 20th and 21st Century Art, Americas

Lot Essay

These five paintings depicting allegories of the Five Senses are near contemporary versions of a celebrated series by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Sir Peter Paul Rubens (Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid). The works are counted among the chefs d’oeuvres of Jan Brueghel the Younger and represent a rarely encountered intact set of these desirable subjects. According to Klaus Ertz, they were painted "shortly after 1626" (loc. cit.), when Jan had returned from several years in Italy where he enjoyed the patronage of leading figures like Cardinal Federico Borromeo (1564-1631). Like the prototypes, this set may well be the product of a collaboration by Jan the Younger and another, as yet unidentified, artist who painted the personifications and accompanying putti.
Ertz’s dating of these panels is well-supported by the historical record. Two of the Prado set are dated 1617 (Sight) and 1618 (Taste), while the appearance of Mariemont in Hearing reflects the completion of building work that took place in the years 1617-1618 and may therefore have been executed slightly later. The reverse of the panel depicting Touch in the present series bears the panel maker’s mark of Guilliam Aertssen, who was admitted to the Antwerp guild as a master frame-maker and tableau-maker in 1612 and appears to have been active at least until 1638. While the panel maker’s mark does not preclude the set from being contemporary with Jan the Elder’s prototypes, on stylistic grounds they would seem to date to nearly a decade later.
The Prado series by Jan the Elder and Rubens were already listed in the inventory of the Alcázar in 1636, which provides a terminus ante quem for the present series, which was painted in Antwerp. The inventory noted that the set was given by the Duke of Neuberg, in all probability the Count Palatine and Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm von der Pfalz-Neuberg, to the Cardinal Infant Ferdinand, who in turn gifted them to the Duke of Medina de las Torres. The Duke had converted to Roman Catholicism and became an important ally to the Spanish crown as the ruler of the Duchy of Cleves, which was united with the Duchy of Jülich and was a central point of debate between the Habsburgs and the Dutch during the Twelve Years’ Truce (1609-21). While it is not known when the Duke himself acquired the Prado series, the evident references to the Archducal couple, Albert and Isabella, in the paintings suggest the set may well have been executed for them and that they gifted the paintings to the Duke for raisons d’état. The Duke died in 1628 and the paintings must have arrived in Spain before 10 April 1633, the day in which the Cardinal Infant left Spain for the Netherlands via Genoa, to provide time for him to gift them on.
Much like the Prado set, this series was in all probability an important commission, though the identify of its patron is unknown. The paintings first appear in 1720 in the possession of the Emperor Charles VI in Vienna. The original patron may well have been a cleric, owing to a notable difference in this series, most evident in the depiction of Smell: while in the Prado painting the personifications tend to be nude or semi-nude, in this series they are draped. Dictates of decency required that personifications be depicted in such fashion. It has further been suggested that this individual may have owned Rubens’ Virgin and Child in Berlin, which Jan the Younger substituted for a similar but not identical painting seen in the right foreground of his father’s depiction of Sight.
Series of the Seasons, Months of the Year and Four Elements proved exceedingly popular in both painting and print in the Lowlands in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, Brueghel and Rubens updated the earlier Mannerist traditions by adapting them to the then-fashionable depictions of collector’s cabinets and market scenes of the type popularized by Joachim Beuckelaer. It is in works like the Prado and present series that this revolution found its fullest expression.

More from Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection Part I

View All
View All