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You are hereHarvey-LeeHomeHarvey-LeeCatalogues - Main Introduction Harvey-LeeSensations of Delight

A selection of prints on the theme of The Five Senses

Netherlandish print designers, makers, publishers and collectors in the later 16th century delighted in prints made in series, which encapsulate the essence of being human and our understanding and appreciation of the world around us: some examples being - the Ages of Man (varying from four up to twelve); the four Temperaments; the seven Deadly Sins; the seven cardinal Virtues; the seven Liberal Arts; the four Elements; the seven Planets; the four Times of Day; the four Seasons; the twelve Months of the Year and the five Senses.

It is this last, appealing theme, with its connotations of pleasure, that has inspired the selection of prints offered in this catalogue. Though there are ugly sights, discordant sounds, disgusting tastes, foul smells and rough brutality, for most of us our experiences and memories are dominated by beauty, harmony, good food, sweet fragrance and tender caresses. So, largely, are the prints I have chosen.

It is our individual facial features, eyes, ears, noses and mouths, our sense organs, which identify us to each other and to ourselves in the mirror (and in the modern ‘selfie’ photograph). On our hands we wear symbolic rings which denote our status. Portrait painters often focus on the hands as well as the faces of their sitters to capture a true representation.

Sensations of Delight, Summer Catalogue from Elizabeth Harvey-Lee, 2016   Sensations of Delight, Summer Catalogue from Elizabeth Harvey-Lee, 2016
‘Eye’, an enlarged detail from Gerald Leslie Brockhurst’s La Tresse, a study of his first wife Anäis, 1926  
Sensations of Delight, Summer Catalogue from Elizabeth Harvey-Lee, 2016
  ‘Ear’ from Jan Saenredam’s engraving, c1598-1601, An Allegory of Sight after Hendrik Goltzius
Sensations of Delight, Summer Catalogue from Elizabeth Harvey-Lee, 2016
‘Mouth’ from Abraham Blooteling’s Laughing Boy with a Cat, c1670, after Jacob van Loo
Sensations of Delight, Summer Catalogue from Elizabeth Harvey-Lee, 2016
‘Nose’ from Stanley Anderson’s The Hedger, 1934   ‘Hand’ from Dürer’s
The Virgin nursing the Child
, 1519

From the Middle Ages and in some instances even from classical times, the senses have been personified, usually as women, and identified by certain attributes and typical activities.

Sight often gazes in a mirror or holds a torch; Hearing plays a musical instrument; Taste enjoys a basket of fruit; Smell has a bunch of flowers or vase of perfume; Touch has a bird on her raised hand.

Other animals associated with the senses are the eagle (sharp-eyed); the stag (traditionally thought to have acute hearing); the ape, with fruit in its mouth (taste); the dog (scent) and the turtle and hedgehog (for hardness of touch) & the ermine (for softness).

Only four of the prints offered here were specifically engraved as representations of the senses (the rest are by association). They were designed by the Antwerp painter and draughtsman Maarten de Vos (1532-1603). There are at least five different sets of prints of The Senses engraved to his designs, by four different engravers; and of three of these sets there are also multiple copies made by other engravers; so popular was the subject.

Sensations of Delight, Summer Catalogue from Elizabeth Harvey-Lee, 2016

Raphael Sadeler I, Taste. Engraving, 1581, from The Five Senses designed by Maarten de Vos. Food and drink, and traditionally, in particular, a basket of fruit were generally used by the old masters to show the pleasure of taste. The monkey, biting into a piece of fruit, is often the animal most associated with the sense of taste at this time.

The selection of modern prints in the catalogue incidentally reference some of the traditional symbols of the senses; there are studies of women looking in mirrors, people playing musical instruments, enjoying wine and food, prints of flowers and what turned out to be quite a collection of mothers embracing and generally tending to their children, from Dürer, among the old masters, through to John Copley portraying his wife, the artist Ethel Gabain, and their baby son, in the 20th century.

Our perception and enjoyment of life are principally determined by our senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch.

I hope that the prints in the catalogue will also exercise the sense of delight.

Published July 2016
Quarto paperback; 48 pages; 81 illustrations (13 in colour)

(Price U.K. £12; International orders £18)

Prints available
Prints from this catalogue are still available.

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Sensations of Delight, Summer Catalogue from Elizabeth Harvey-Lee, 2016

Artists included in the catalogue:

  • Airy A
  • Anderson S
  • Blampied E
  • Blooteling A
  • Boreel W
  • Bosse A
  • Brebiette P
  • Brockhurst G L
  • Coker P
  • Copley J
  • Copus J
  • Desmazières E
  • David H
  • Dürer A
  • Dusart C
  • Ellis I A
  • Forain J L
  • Gabain E
  • Gauguin P
  • Gavarni G S C
  • Goltzius H
  • Gorlato B
  • Gosse S
  • Greiffenhagen M
  • Guidi R
  • Harper J G
  • Harvey H J
  • Hassall J
  • Hollar W
  • Ilsted P
  • Klinger M
  • Le Brun V
  • Lee-Hankey W L
  • Leighton C
  • Lloyd R J
  • Loo J van
  • Lord E A
  • Maetzel-Johanssen D
  • Matham J
  • Menzel A von
  • Millet J F
  • Monfreid D de
  • Metzu G
  • Müller J G von
  • Nash J
  • Neumond D
  • Ostade A van
  • Passe C de
  • Petitjean H
  • Portway D
  • Sadeler R
  • Sanraedam J
  • Sichem C van
  • Sickert W R
  • Slater E
  • Simpson J
  • Slevogt M
  • Todd A R M
  • Tournour M
  • Urushibara J
  • Vogeler H
  • Weiss E R
  • Watson J
  • Wierix J
  • Winkler J W
  • Zorn A

Sensations of Delight, Summer Catalogue from Elizabeth Harvey-Lee, 2016

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