The Five Senses
The Five Senses have, from time immemorial, represented the five elementary tools through which we come to terms with all the conditions that surround us and come to understand the world. The concept of the Five Senses as distinctly distinguishable ways of how to perceive the world was first clearly defined in the writings of classical philosophers, especially in Aristotle's treatises - and it was at the same time that the place of sensual perception in the process of acquiring knowledge was determined.
Surprisingly enough, the Five Senses were never visually represented in the art of Classical Antiquity. This role was only taken up as late as during the Middle Ages, when several strategies of how to depict the senses were conceived: through identification texts, action personifications and animal symbols.
The "golden age" of capturing the Five Senses arrived during the 16th century, and continued into the first half of the 17th century, when graphic cycles became the main and determining medium of this iconography. This is why the core of the present exhibition is devoted to these graphic cycles, displaying works by Georg Pencz, Frans Floris, Marten de Vos and Hendrick Goltzius, and also by some other artists, which rank amongst the supreme achievements in the field of European graphic arts of the late Renaissance and early Baroque.
Director, Collection of Prints and Drawings