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Allegory of the Five Senses
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Allegory of the Five Senses

Description Provenance Credit
Description At first glace, this is simply a scene in a darkened inn frequented by the poor and down-and-out. Embedding a classical allegory (a symbolic image) in such a subject makes it especially intriguing. Each person acts out one of the five senses: sound is represented by the woman with a lute, at center; taste, by the man emptying a flask of wine; smell, by the young man with a melon; sight, by the man on the right holding a pair of spectacles; and touch, by the two people who are fighting. Paolini's allegory dates from his early years in Rome, where he studied the paintings of Caravaggio (1571-1610), known for their realism and strong chiaroscuro (modeling in light and shade).
Provenance Philippe, duke of Orléans [d. 1723]; Louis Philippe Joseph, duke of Orléans, Philippe Egalité [d. 1793], by inheritance; Orléans Sale, Coxe, Burrell and Foster, London, February 14, 1800; Dr. Frank Lewarne, Cricklade, Wiltshire; Cricklade Town Hall, Wiltshire, October 1945, by gift; Private collection, London; Sale, Sotheby's, London, December 8, 1993; Mattiesen Fine Art Ltd., London; Walters Art Museum, 2003, by purchase.
Credit Museum purchase with funds generously provided by the Ben and Zelda Cohen Foundation and the W. Alton Jones Foundation Acquisition Fund, 2003

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ca. 1630
oil on canvas
(Painting & Drawing)
Accession Number
49 1/4 x 68 1/8 in. (125.1 x 173 cm)
  • Italy (Place of Origin)


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