skip to primary navigationskip to content

Lizzie Marx

Lizzie Marx

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 and Neighbouring Countries


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 – September 2019 I am working at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow.

Other academic interests

Intercultural and intermedia iconography
Folklore and superstition
The upside down world
History of science and knowledge
Print culture
‘Degenerate’ art
Art conservation