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Rembrandt’s Allegory of the Senses

Breaking news! There is something truly special happening in The Rembrandt House Museum. From 1 December 2016 to 12 February 2017, the institution is bringing together Rembrandt’s Allegory of the Senses. These are works from the very beginning of his career. A unique opportunity.

Earliest works

The Allegory of the Senses are the earliest works of Rembrandt we know of. The series, made around 1624 in Rembrandt’s hometown Leiden, consists of four paintings. They represent four of the five senses, namely Sight, Hearing, Smell and Touch.

Rembrandts vier zintuigen
Rembrandt, The Spectacles Seller (Sight), c. 1624. Oil on panel, 21 x 17,8 cm. Museum De Lakenhal, Leiden.
Rembrandts vier zintuigen
Rembrandt, The Three Singers (Hearing), c. 1624. oil on panel, 21,6 x 17,6 cm. The Leiden Collection, New York.
Rembrandts vier zintuigen
Rembrandt, The Unconscious Patient (Smell), c. 1624. Oil on panel, 31,7 x 25,4 cm. The Leiden Collection, New York.
Rembrandt, De operatie (het gevoel), ca. 1624. Olieverf op paneel, 21,5 x 17,7 cm. The Leiden Collection, New York.
Rembrandt, The Operation (Touch), a. 1624. Oil on panel, 21,5 x 17,7 cm. The Leiden Collection, New York.

It is likely that Rembrandt produced a complete set of five senses, but as for the fifth one, Taste, nobody has ever seen it. In fact, until recently we only knew of three senses. The fourth one, Smell, surfaced at an art sale in New Jersey last year. It was bought by an Americam art collector. The large art fair TEFAF in Maastricht had the pleasure of presenting the work to the audience.

Witnesses to emerging talent

Why are they so special, you might ask? Well, they are like a witness of the emerging talent of the Dutch master. You can tell that the artist was looking for ways to paint a story and in a way that conveys human emotions. Something he would become so incredibly good at later in life.

The Rembrandt House Museum is the first place on Dutch soil where the four small works are being displayed together. After the show in the Rembrandt House Museum the works will travel to The Louvre in Paris.

Afterwards, it is likely the works will be separated again, since they have different owners. So grab your change while you can.

Rembrandt’s First Paintings: The Four Senses.  The Rembrandt House Museum

1 December 2016 – 12 February 2017. 




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