India’s only daily art newspaper

Now, you can actually smell the flowers in a Jan Brueghel painting at Madrid’s Museo del Prado 

Madrid’s Museo del Prado is home to Jan Brueghel the Elder’s 17th-century painting The Sense of Smell, which shows a nude female with a child amid a scene replete with a variety of animals and an abundance of flowers. The painting evokes powerful imagination and encourages the viewers to embark on a life-like appreciation of the scenery. In fact, earlier references to the painting have recorded viewers describing that such is the beauty of the work that they can almost smell the fragrances of the plethora of blooms. 


Now, the museum has ensured that visitors can literally smell the aromas, by using advanced and innovative technology, through their new exhibition, The Essence of a Painting – An Olfactory Exhibition, that will run from April 4 to July 3. 

Artnet reports that collaborating with the large Spanish perfume manufacturer Puig, Vergara and the company’s senior perfumer, Gregorio Sola, selected 10 items from the painting to add aromas to them. The selected items were jasmine, rose, spikenard, iris, orange blossom, daffodil, carnation, a fig tree, and children’s gloves — and even the odour of a civet — depicted in the painting. to present as aromas alongside it.


These mechanisms that take the painting to another sensory level have indeed caught fancy and the museum’s Room 83 has been buzzing with visitors since the exhibition opened. Viewers are privy to four scent-diffusing stations placed in front of the painting and can isolate and zoom in on the painting to select the things they wish to smell. The AirParfum machines, patented by Puig, emit humidity-less particles into the air that can be smelled even with a mask on from a distance of up to 50 centimetres.