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Lizzie Marx

Lizzie Marx

Pembroke College

Supervisor: Professor Jean Michel Massing

Piquant Perfumes and Putrid Effluvia: Visualising Smell in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art


Lizzie Marx completed the History of Art BA at King’s College, Cambridge, in 2014, and then worked for Art Fund, the national fundraising organisation for museums and galleries. Lizzie resumed her studies in Cambridge in 2015 to read the MPhil in History of Art at Peterhouse, funded by the Newton College Masters Studentship Scheme. She continued to work with her supervisor Jean Michel Massing exploring the imagery of proverbs. Lizzie's research covered representations of proverbs in early eighteenth-century playing cards, depictions of ‘broomstick weddings’, and adages surrounding the scent of melons.

Lizzie's doctoral research, funded by the AHRC-Lander Studentship, is dedicated to challenging the prevailing 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 Dutch society. The research addresses how artists strove to visualise the olfactory in an array of subject matters: from scenes of foul anatomical dissections, to portraits of women adorned with fragrant pomanders.

In September 2018 – August 2019 Lizzie was an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Lizzie remains in the Netherlands to complete her PhD and work with the Mauritshuis, The Hague, on the exhibition 'Fleeting – Scents in Colour' (11 February – 6 June 2021).

Photo credit: Rijksmuseum