The Five Senses in Genre Paintings of the Dutch Golden Age


  • Kitsirin Kitisakon Visual Arts Department, Faculty of Fine and Applied Art, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.



Five Senses, Genre Painting, Dutch Golden Age, Prodigal Son


This article aims to study one of the most popular themes in 17th-Century Dutch genre paintings - the five senses - in its forms and religious interpretations. Firstly, while two means of representation were used to clearly illustrate the subject, some genre scenes could also be read on a subtle level; this effectively means that such five senses images can be interpreted somewhere between clarity and ambiguity. Secondly, three distinct religious meanings were identified in these genre paintings. Vanity was associated with the theme because the pursuit of pleasure is futile, while sin was believed to be committed via sensory organs. As for the Parable of the Prodigal Son, party scenes alluding to the five senses can be read as relating to the episode of the son having spent all his fortune.




How to Cite

Kitisakon, Kitsirin. 2018. “The Five Senses in Genre Paintings of the Dutch Golden Age”. Journal of Urban Culture Research 16 (July):124-39.



Case Study