The Five Senses


Abraham Bloemart (1564-1651), The Five Senses, the set of 5 engravings (4 illustrated), circa 1645, engraved by his son Frederick Bloemart (1610-1669) (after paintings); References: Hollstein 244-248; LeBlanc 211-215. Second state of two, with the titles, names of the artist and engraver, and the numbers. On old laid paper, with the Foolscap with Seven Pointed Hat watermark. In good condition, generally trimmed slightly outside of the platemark (plate 5 trimmed on or just within the platemark in places and with a small repaired spot bottom right near the border). Each plate about 4 1/4 x 6 3/8 inches.

Provenance: Christopher Mendez (58 Jermyn Street, London, noted as incorporating Craddock and Barnard), with his label still attached to the mat.

A fine delicately printed set.

This set portrays the five senses in rather somber fashion, e.g., touch is suggested by an attack of bears, taste by breastfeeding and a child drinking, sound by a young man playing the flute for a girl, sight by an owl on a perch. Smell is portrayed curiously: an older women lectures a young girl; we can identify a garlic clove on the ground.

The Foolscap with Seven Pointed Collar (with the numeral 4 and 3 balls) watermark appears to be the same as Ash and Fletcher’s watermark number 20 (cf. Ash and Fletcher, Watermarks in Rembrandt Prints, 1998). Ash and Fletcher trace this watermark to many of the great lifetime impressions of Rembrant’s middle and later years, leading to the strong suggestion that these prints were done near the middle of the 17th Century. Frederick Bloemart life and career span closely parallels that of Rembrandt.

Abraham Bloemaert worked in Utrecht and taught many of the leading artists of that city during the course of his long career. There is a drawing of Visus (Sight) by Bloemart in Amsterdam, and one of Tactus (Touch) in London.