Sotheby’s doesn’t just want you to look at artwork—it also wants you to smell it.
The auction house recently tapped Lyn Harris of Perfumer H to create a three-piece candle collection designed to bring 17th-century Dutch Old Master paintings to life through scent. The trio is an olfactory homage to the works featured in the Grasset Collection. The renowned private art collection was auctioned off at Sotheby’s Old Master Evening in London last night.
Two of the still lifes Harris referenced to create the collection depict an abundance of roses and exotic citrus fruits that signify the prosperity of the Dutch Golden Age. The third is set within a wooded landscape. As such, the three candles emit heady fragrances that mirror nature.
“Rose with Insects” takes its name from Osias Beert’s Still life of roses in a lacquer and canework oriental bowl with a butterfly and dragonfly (estimate: £200,000 to £300,000). The blooming piece is reflected through woody notes of mahogany, patchouli, papyrus and vetiver. The light touch of honey is a nod to the fading roses in the painting, while the hints of cade and birch tar echo the woven lacquered basket.
“Bird and Lemon” is an intoxicating tribute to Peter Binoit’s Still life of a citron, grapes, and apple and other fruits in a porcelain bowl with a sparrow, with plums and apricots in a gilt tazza (estimate: £80,000). As you might expect, lemons are the star of the show. The candle also pairs notes of white grape and apricot with resins of myrrh, frankincense and opoponax. Hints of cedar, oak, nutmeg and clove round out the scent.
Finally, “Smoke in Woods” honors Juan Van der Hamen y León’s Still Life with a basket of fruit with two plates of fruit and two birds, all on a stone ledge (estimate: £300,000 to £500,000). The candle has top notes of juniper, black pepper and frankincense, middle notes of little green oak and cedar wood, and a base of sandalwood, birch tar and smoldering cade.
A sample of each candle has been displayed under a specially-made cloche by Michael Ruh near the respective artworks at Sotheby’s. Although the sale wrapped up on December 7, the limited-edition candles may still be available to purchase for $189 (£155) each at the New Bond Street location.