The series of paintings illustrating the Five Senses reveals a clearly Baroque sensibility, evident in the artist’s capacity to capture the psychology of his sitters, the portrait’s realism resulting from the artist’s skill in capturing the spontaneity of a fleeting moment. Gonzales Coques painted two other series of paintings devoted to the five senses, of which one is currently in the National Gallery, London. In the series in the Brukenthal Art Gallery, the painter emphasizes the psychological states of his sitters, apparently common people, from the lower middle class. In this series, the attributes of the senses only serve as pretexts, to include in the composition a number of static elements (tables laden with food, musical notes, smoking paraphernalia, medical instruments, and an easel). Smell captivates us by the highly focused concentration of the character. The attribute of the olfactory sense is the perfume vial, and the attitude of the man reveals the connoisseur, in the tense moment preceding his decision concerning the quality of the product he is inspecting. The viewer is invited to form his own opinion concerning the outcome of this scene. ©Dana Roxana Hrib, European Art Gallery Guidebook, Second edition, Sibiu 2011.


  • Title: The Five Senses, Smell
  • Date: ca. 1650
  • Physical Dimensions: w57.5 x h73 cm (without frame)
  • Collecting: Brukenthal National Museum, Sibiu, Romania
  • Artist Biography: Gonzales Coques was born in Antwerp, the city where he was to spend his entire life. At the age of 12, he was apprenticed to the portrait painter Pieter, son of Hell Brueghel; later he became an ardent student of still lives, under the supervision of David Ryckaert the Younger. At the age of 26, he was admitted to the Guild of Saint Luke. His career was quite successful; in 1641 he was elected Guild Master and in 1671 he became painter to the Governor General of the Low Countries, Count Monterey, keeping his position under successive administrations. ©Dana Roxana Hrib, European Art Gallery Guidebook, Second edition, Sibiu 2011.
  • Provenance: Brukenthal National Museum
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: oil on canvas

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps