RIBERA, Jusepe de
(b. 1591, Játiva, d. 1652, Napoli)

Sense of Taste

Oil on canvas, 117 x 88 cm
Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford

Ribera's stay in Rome lasted only a few years. Only a handful of pictures from his Roman period has been identified, of which the most important is a set of the Five Senses, supposedly made for a Spanish client. The Sense of Taste, which typifies these pictures, is an ingenious representation of a theme made popular in the Netherlands during the late sixteenth century. Northern artists treated the subject as an allegory with classicising figures. However, Ribera rejects this model and takes a direct, naturalistic approach, embodying the sense of taste in a beefy, gluttonous type, poised to descent on a bowl of pasta and wash it down with a jug of wine.