Site pictogram Brieven Constantijn Huygens Online

Workshop Memory of Scent, 5 October 2022

Atelier Néerlandais, 121 rue de Lille, Paris, France.

17th century Dutchman Constantijn Huygens was a true homo universalis. Recently, it was discovered that amongst his many talents he was also an amateur perfumer, and as such collected more than 150 perfume-related recipes.

The project ‘Memory of Scent’ (see also: https://story.durare.eu/making-scents-of-the-past and https://brievenconstantijnhuygens.net/2022/04/10/rieckend-water-van-mijn-moeder [in Dutch] ) followed one of these recipes as closely as possible in order that we might experience some sense of how Huygens sought to manipulate his olfactory environment. The experiment was successful, and it was suggested that we find a perfumer who might be interested in recreating this scent. A partnership followed, with Daan Sins from the appropriately named Huygens Organic Beauty Apothecary in Paris, and Marypierre Julien, senior perfumer at Givaudan, collaborating to recreate the scent. The result is now available to the public in the form of a scented candle—Ode de parfum: to my Mother.

While the accuracy of any modern recreation of an old recipe is subject to whatever changes have occurred in the raw materials in the years that separate them, the process nevertheless allows us greater insight into Huygens’ activities as a perfumer—these are shared with the public in a display including video footage of the original experiments, the ingredients that were used, and the experience of the scent itself.

Alongside the simple reconstruction of sensory experience, the project also seeks to examine how connections between scent, emotion and memory are processed in the human brain.

Taking the discovery of the perfume recipes of Constantijn Huygens as a starting point, De Jonge Akademie, Huygens Institute and Atelier Néerlandais are organising a workshop in Paris to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experience between experts in connected fields such as historians, literary scholars, art historians, neuroscientists, curators and perfumers. The workshop will take the form of a number of short presentations designed to provoke discussion and invite questions. Topics to be discussed include durability, interdisciplinarity, valorisation (i.e., transmission of knowledge to a wider audience), museal settings, documentation,  cooperation, and interpretation.

Should you wish to attend this workshop, which will be conducted in the English language, please let us know by replying to this email or by contacting Ineke Huysman at ineke.huysman@huygens.knaw.nl.

Program:

13:00-13:30 uur Arrival with coffee and tea

13.30-13:35 uur Welcome by Lilian Widdershoven, director Atelier Néerlandais

13:35-15:00 uur (Olfactory) presentations and discussion

15:00-15:30 uur Break

15:30-17:00 uur (Olfactory) presentations and discussion

17:00-18:15 uur Drinks

Speakers/discussants: Nadine Akkerman: professor in Early Modern Literature and Culture at Leiden University; Maxime Boersma: educational researcher, Hortus Botanicus Leiden; Marjolijn Bol: associate professor of Technical Art History at University of Utrecht; Eugenie Briot: program manager Perfumery School at Givaudan; India Cole: historian at Queen Mary University of London/Oxford Botanic Garden; Sofia Ehrich: sensory art historian en olfactory event manager at Odeuropa/KNAW; Hanneke Hulst: professor in Neuropsychology in Health and Disease at Leiden University; Ineke Huysman: cultural historian at Huygens Institute/NL-Lab/KNAW; Marypierre Julien, senior fine fragrance perfumer specialized in Naturals at Givaudan; Isabel Lauterjung: archivist at the Royal Society of London; Inger Leemans: professor of Cultural History at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and PI of Odeuropa and of NL-Lab/KNAW; Ariane van Suchtelen, curator at Mauritshuis The Hague; Daan Sins, founder and co-owner of Huygens Paris; William Tullett: associate professor in Sensory Studies at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge/Odeuropa; Lea van der Vinde: director of Huygens Museum Hofwijck; Érika Wicky: researcher at Bibliotheca Hertziana Max Planck Institute for Art History/Osmothèque Versailles.

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