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The Five SensesEnlarge image

The Five Senses, c. 1580-1590

Antoon Claeissins, Attributed to
Flemish, 1536 - 1613
oil on oak, transferred to canvas
31.4 x 36.5 cm
Purchased 1912
National Gallery of Canada (no. 363)

The five women personify the senses and are accompanied by their traditional symbols. From left to right, they are: Touch, with a falcon in her hand and a tortoise at her feet; Taste, holding an apple to her mouth and a cornucopia of fruit in her right hand with a vase of fruit at her elbow and a monkey eating an apple at her feet; Sight, looking in a mirror, with an eagle before her; Smell, sniffing lilies and holding a spray and a vase of flowers, with a dog beside her; and Hearing, playing a lute, with a stag behind her and a music book and other musical instruments on the ground. Claeissins was the official painter of the city of Bruges from 1570 to 1581.

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