Our attractive painting on wood immediately catches the eye with its bright and vibrant colors and illustrates at first glance a gallant party in a castle. And yet this feast symbolically introduces, through the intertwined couples, the allegory of the five senses.
The work is attributed to Pieter Lisaert XIV, an Antwerp painter, who, with his religious and allegorical works, is in line with Frans Francken II, of whom he is a contemporary.
In an interior with refined decor, five elegantly and richly dressed couples are having fun and entertaining themselves. Each couple depicts a sense.
Thus, on the left, the sense of Hearing is illustrated by the couple of musicians, with a gentleman in a feather hat playing the lute while his sweetheart with a wide neckline plays the organ. On the right, the sense of Touch, the couple of lovers embrace and kiss.
In the center of the panel, the sense of Smell personified by a young man in a hat and black cape offering flowers to a young aristocrat dressed in flamboyant red who delicately brings a rose to her nose.
In the background, the sense of Sight, a couple of art lovers examining a painting hanging on the wall. The lady looks attentively at her partner and no doubt awaits his impressions of the work.
Finally, in the background, the sense of Taste, illustrated by a couple seated, the young woman tasting red wine.
Allegorical subjects are highly appreciated by Flemish high society to decorate their reception rooms as well as their private cabinets. The allegorical paintings in vogue in Antwerp at this time mainly evoke the senses, the elements and the seasons. Our painting is thus a wonderful testimony to customs, opulence and the art of living in Europe at the beginning of the 17th century.
17th century Antwerp School
Attributed to Pieter Lisaert IV (Antwerp 1595-1629/30)
Oil on oak panel
Dimensions: panel: h. 24 cm, w. 42cm
17th century Italian giltwood frame
Framed dimensions: h. 34 cm, w. 53cm
Pieter Lisaert IV (Antwerp 1595-1629/30)
Member of the dynasty of painters settled in Antwerp since 1520, he was master of the guild of Saint Luke in 1615. He is best known for his religious subjects. He is also a wealthy art dealer.
1) Parable of ten virgins, Dorotheum auction, Vienna, 9/04/2014
2) Parable of ten virgins, Prado National Museum, Madrid
3) Allegory of the five senses, Piasa auction, Paris, 03/27/2008