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French Perfumers Concoct Scents Inspired by the Louvre's Most Famous Artworks

Mental Floss logo Mental Floss 2019-06-29 Michele Debczak

View of the Pyramid of the Louvre during the 'JR au Louvre & Le Secret de la Grande Pyramide'.

View of the Pyramid of the Louvre during the 'JR au Louvre & Le Secret de la Grande Pyramide'.
© Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images

Greek artist Alexandros of Antioch put a lot of thought into the expression and physicality of the goddess of love when sculpting the Venus de Milo. He may have spent less time thinking about how his subject smelled, but 2000 years later, a team of perfumers are doing that job for him. As Artnet News reports, the Louvre museum in Paris has enlisted the scent geniuses at L'Officine Universelle Buly to develop perfumes for some its famous works of art.

Related Slideshow: Must-see masterpieces: Beautiful museums around the world (Provided by Photo Services)

Eight perfumers from the French fragrance company were given free range to concoct a scent that evoked their favorite items in the Louvre's collection without worrying about cost or ingredients. Winged Victory of Samothrace, a marble sculpture that depicts the Greek goddess Nike, apparently smells like white tuberose flowers and woody myrrh. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’s 1808 painting The Bather was matched with scents of lavender, orange blossom, and neroli oil. For Saint Joseph Charpentier, which shows St. Joseph drilling a piece of wood with a young Jesus, the perfumer selected essences of verbena and cedar.

Ramdane Touhami, one of the cofounders of L'Officine Universelle Buly, told AFP, "It is about adding an olfactory dimension to a visual experience. I chose eight perfumers, all stars and gave them 100 percent freedom, with no limit on their budgets."

In addition to the works mentioned above, perfumes have been created for Thomas Gainsborough’s Conversation in a Park, Ingres’s La Grande Odalisque, Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s The Bolt, and Lorenzo Bartolini’s Nymph With Scorpion. Every fragrance will be available to purchase in a pop-up shop near the Louvre from July 3 through January 2020.

Creating a perfume that evokes art without a scent may seem tricky, but it's been done before. There are several perfumes inspired by works of literature, including Game of Thrones.

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