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Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership - Student Profiles



After completing the History of Art BA at King’s College, Cambridge, in 2014, I worked for Art Fund, the national fundraising organisation for museums and galleries. I resumed my studies in Cambridge in 2015 to read the MPhil in History of Art at Peterhouse, where I continued to work with my supervisor Jean Michel Massing exploring the imagery of proverbs. My research covered representations of proverbs in early eighteenth century playing cards, depictions of ‘broomstick weddings’ and adages surrounding the scent of melons. It was this latter aspect of my MPhil research that introduced me to the great potential of looking at Early Modern imagery through the olfactory.

My doctoral research is dedicated to challenging the accepted desensitised art historical narrative of the seventeenth century, by investigating the visual representations of the perfumed and the fetid, and exploring what meanings they held in Northern European society. The research addresses how artists and craftsmen strove to achieve the almost impossible task of visualising the olfactory in a range of media and an array of subject matters; from foul cadavers riddled with plague, to fragrant incense made from exotic ingredients.

From September 2018 – August 2019 I was an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. I remain in the Netherlands to complete my PhD and work with the Mauritshuis, The Hague, on their exhibition 'Smell and Imagination in the Golden Age', supported by the AHRC-DTP Student Development Fund.

Department: History of Art
Supervisor: Jean Michel Massing
College: Pembroke
AHRC Subject Area: History of Art
Title of Thesis: Piquant Perfumes and Putrid Effluvia: Visualising Smell in the Seventeenth-Century Netherlands
 Lizzie  Marx