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IIIF Actions
Philippe Mercier, 1689 or 1691–1760
The Sense of Smell
1744 to 1747
Materials & Techniques:
Oil on canvas
52 x 60 1/2 inches (132.1 x 153.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
allegory | basket | birds | botany | conversation piece | costume | dead | dog (animal) | flower (plant) | flowers (plants) | food | fruit | genre subject | hats | hunter | hunting | Italianate | jasmine | lovers | melons | men | milkmaid | park (grounds) | partridges | pastoral | rifle (long gun) | Rococco style | science | senses | smell | tricorne | women
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

As in The Sense of Touch and The Sense of Taste, this composition consists of two pairs of lovers, one rustic, the other poetic. They meet in a park. The boy in the tricorn hat has been out shooting. His brace of partridges, in which his gun dog shows much interest, is on the ledge at his elbow. His companion in a straw hat, possibly a shepherdess or milkmaid, greets him with a basket of ripe melons, one of which he takes in both hands and smells-in the manner universally known to ascertain ripeness. The other couple are more elaborately dressed. The young lady takes a sprig of fragrant jasmine from her basket of flowers and holds it up for her lover to savor.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2005

Scent and Symbolism - Perfumed Objects and Images (Dixon Gallery & Gardens, 2017-04-09 - 2017-07-02) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

1747, Richardson's Sale, Foundling Hospital dinner, Mercier, The Star, vertue III, 1933-34, p. 135, N12 W35 A1 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Martine Chazal, Scent and Symbolism : Perfumed Objects and Images, Dixon Gallery & Gardens, Memphis, 2017, pp. 50-52, 173, cat. 178, fig. 42, NK5440 B6 C4484 2017 [ORBIS]

Christie's Sale Catalogue : Important English Pictures : 21 June 1974, Christie's, June 21, 1974, p. 45, Lot 123, pl. 123, Sales Catalogues (YCBA) [YCBA]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 158-159, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Luke Herrmann, The Paul Mellon Collection at Burlington House, Connoisseur, vol. 157, December 1964, pp. 214,216, fig. 6, N1 C75 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

John Ingamells, A Catalogue of the Paintings, Drawings, and Etchings of Philip Mercier, Volume of the Walpole Society, vol. 46, Walpole Society, 1976-8, pp. 5, 62, no. 266, pl. 6b, N12 W35 +A1 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Painting in England 1700-1850 : collection of Mr. & Mrs. Paul Mellon : Exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, , 1,2, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, 1963, p. 108 (v. 1), no, 205, ND466 V57 v.1-2 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Painting in England 1700-1850 from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, The Royal Academy of Arts Winter Exhibition 1964-65., , Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK, 1964, p. 2 (v. 1), no. 4, ND466 R68 1964/65 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Paul Mellon's Legacy : a passion for British art [large print labels], , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, v. 3, N5220 M552 P381 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Robert Raines, Philip Mercier, 1689-1760, an exhibition of paintings and engravings. , Paul Mellon Foundation for British Art, London, 1969, p. 47, no. 50, NJ18 M5427 R35 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Sotheby's sale catalogue : British Paintings 1500-1850 : 13 July 1988, Sotheby's, London, July 13, 1988, pp. 129-31, lot 86, Auction Catalogues (YCBA)

Jennifer Ullman, Philippe Mercier and The five senses, Yale Center for British Art. , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1990, V 0099 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Yale University Art Gallery, Painting in England, 1700-1850, from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon : [exhibition at] Yale University Art Gallery, April 15-June 20, 1965, , vol. 1, W. Clowes and sons, New Haven, 1965, p. 36 (v.1), no. 132, ND466 Y35 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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