Allegory of the Five Senses1630
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).
- 49 1/4 x 68 1/8 in. (125.1 x 173 cm)
- oil on canvas
- Courtesy of the Walters Art Museum
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