Exhibit of 17th-century scents at a Dutch museum

Scents of the seventeenth century are the subject of a new exhibition entitled “The Smell of Art: Passing – Smells in Color” at the Mauritshaus Museum in The Hague that focuses on its effects on art and the daily life.

And in part, (this means that not only golden age art can be seen but also smelled) eight long-disappeared scents were recreated and placed in aerosols in front of artworks.

The Dutch Republic’s “prosperity” was a bad-smelling period: the canals were full of excrement, chemical residue, and Waste residues, not to mention the city’s animals and stinking occupations like leather tanning.

But it wasn’t all bad, as the merchant ships brought all sorts of “attractive” spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, and Delicious like coffee, tea and tobacco, and these scents also mixed in the place.

Museum curator Ariane van Suechtelen explains: “The painters deliberately gave place to these new goods and scents to illuminate the experience of senses, and they wanted to make the smell visible and the paintings became a stage for sensory perception.

Holland Museum