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IIIF Actions
Philippe Mercier, 1689 or 1691–1760
The Sense of Sight
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:
column (architectural element) | conversation piece | costume | genre subject | girls | globe (cartographic sphere) | Italianate | landscape | magnifying glass | man | map | mirror | Rococco style | senses | sight | telescope | women
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

Echoing most closely the composition of The Sense of Hearing, this scene of three young women and a boy sitting with their tutor beside a parapet in the open air employs optical accessories to stand for the sense of sight. The gentleman examines with his magnifying glass a map of part of the east coast of Spain and the islands of Mallorca and Menorca, perhaps explaining to the girl seated beside him their geographical and political significance to Britain. Over his shoulder, the other two girls peer through a telescope (left) and tilt a small mirror (right), while the boy in the foreground bows his head and refrains from looking at anything.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2005

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

Christie's Sale Catalogue : Important English Pictures : 21 June 1974, Christie's, June 21, 1974, p. 46, No. 124, pl. 124, 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]

Stephen Daniels, Joseph Wright, Tate Publishing, London, 1999, NJ18 W95 D25 1999 (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. 265, pl. 6c, N12 W35 +A1 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Joseph Monteyne, From still life to the screen, print culture, display, and the materiality of the image in eighteenth-century London , Yale University Press, New Haven, 2013, pp. 218-19, fig. 152, NE631.L66 M655 2013 (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. 49, NJ18 M5427 R35 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Elleen Reeves, Reading Maps, Word & Image, Vol. 9, No. 1, March 1993, pp. 57-65, PN53 W67 (YCBA) [YCBA]

David H. Solkin, Painting for money, the visual arts and the public sphere in eighteenth-century England , The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, New Haven, 1993, no. 77, N5205.7 G7 S65 1993 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Sotheby's sale catalogue : British Paintings 1500-1850 : 13 July 1988, Sotheby's, London, July 13, 1988, pp. 129-31, lot 85, 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]

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