What Does This 17th-Century Painting Smell Like?

Sarah Kuta in Smithsonian:

A work of art has the power to transport its viewer to another time and place. Now, the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, Spain, is taking that idea one step further with a new exhibition that incorporates smell to enhance the experience of a 17th-century painting. Per a statement from the museum, “The Essence of a Painting: An Olfactory Exhibition” focuses exclusively on The Sense of Smell, a work created by Belgian artists Jan Brueghel the Elder and Peter Paul Rubens between 1617 and 1618. The show, on view through July 3, invites visitors to not only look at the oil painting but also smell ten scents inspired by it.

For the show, Alejandro Vergara, the museum’s chief curator of Flemish and Northern European paintings, partnered with Gregorio Sola, a senior perfumer at Barcelona-based fashion and fragrance company Puig and an academic at the Academia del Perfume in Madrid. Sola developed new fragrances based on elements of the painting, which depicts Venus and Cupid surrounded by exotic flowers, birds, animals, and objects related to perfume (such as distillation vessels and scented gloves). The scent “Fig Tree,” for example, brings the refreshing, vegetal scent of the fruit tree in the painting to life, while “Allegory”—which combines rose, jasmine and carnation—embodies the bouquet of flowers Venus is smelling.

More here.