Fragrance News: Laura Tonatto Perfume for Hermitage


The new fragrance by an Italian perfumer Laura Tonatto is inspired by Caravaggio’s “The Lute Player.” The fruits and flowers depicted in the painting by an Italian Baroque artist are recreated in the nine fragrances, three fruity and six floral. The tenth fragrance combines all nine notes in order to evoke a scent that might have filled the painting. The cylinders with gel perfumes will be on display until November 20th, 2005 at The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, the permanent residence “The Lute Player.” The fragrance will be released as a limited edition of 1000 bottles.

Caravaggio. The Lute-Player. c.1595-1596. Oil on canvas. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia. From


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  • Laura: V, this may be too much of a good thing. What do you think? And where’s the chiaroscuro note? 😀 November 1, 2005 at 5:23am Reply

  • linda: I grew up with the reproduction of this painting in my house. Do you have any idea how to buy a bottle? November 1, 2005 at 11:04am Reply

  • g adrian: I agree. Caravaggio was a dark and at times,violent scrapper as well as brilliant painter. His work and his innovative technique were a combination of subtlety and rage. It would be interesting to see if the perfume combines these opposing qualities. November 1, 2005 at 8:17am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Laura, I am getting that same impression, even though I am wildly curious about the scent nevertheless. Chiaroscuro note is absolutely necessary, otherwise what is the point? 🙂 November 1, 2005 at 9:56am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Gail, I love this observation–“a combination of subtlety and rage.” I would love to smell this new perfume, just to see whether the perfumer tried to capture it. November 1, 2005 at 9:57am Reply

  • Marina: So let me get this straight 🙂 There are going to be 10 scents, not 1, right? Now I have to look at the fruits and florals on the picture very closely, decide whihc one I might like and send a relative or friend to St Petersburg to buy it for me…hmmm… November 1, 2005 at 10:06am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, there are nine scents bases on the fruits and flowers in the painting, but these are not going to be sold. The tenth scent combines all nine notes, and it will be available as a limited edition of 1000 bottles. Do you still want to do a St.Petersburg dispatch? 🙂 November 1, 2005 at 10:14am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Linda, perhaps, you should contact Hermitage by following the link above? I am not sure what else to suggest, because I am not sure where it is going to be distributed other than Hermitage. November 1, 2005 at 12:26pm Reply

  • Marina: I am still very curious about it…I can’t imagine who would volunteer to go and get it as a gift for me though 🙂 November 1, 2005 at 1:57pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: I can’t either, as I do not friends in St. Petersburg. I have not even visited it since I was very young. My recollections are mostly based on the photos and films. November 1, 2005 at 2:07pm Reply

  • Katie: Yikes. Carravagio? Good thing they did not select some of his other works. Can you imagine a scent that is meant to compliment his creepy corpulent Cupid? Or his youthful self-portrait where he is ill?

    It would be fascinating to get a sniff of this, of course, but then I would love to smell some of her other odes to other artforms as well, like her literature series. I am dying of curiosity to take a whiff of the Suskind scent she devised. November 1, 2005 at 10:15pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Katie, I am very curious to try her other art scents as well. Caravaggio seems like an interesting subject though, despite whatever associations I have with his life and work. November 1, 2005 at 10:44pm Reply

  • Miriam: I agree with everyone else: this scent demands a chiaroscuro note. It would also be interesting to think about what might make the fragrance Renaissance or Baroque. Apropos of V’s description of the painter as Baroque, I have always thought of C. as on the cusp between Renaissance and Mannerist, foreshadowing the later Baroque movement. But I’m no art historian– I study the grotesque in early modern English and Continental material texts so I could be very much wrong here about painting.

    This has me very much admiring V’s use of images with each fragrance review and piece of news. We already employ a confused language of music for fragrances, why not the visual arts as well? What would chiaroscuro smell like? Focused points of light, clear scent enveloped in musky, velvety darkness? A true chiaroscuro scent must have an outlining of light as much as a velvety dark, so Ormonde wouldn’t work here unless the grassy top note were to last longer. Perhaps Olivia Giacobetti could do it, seeing as she seems to layer scents like shadows and reflections. Would Hiris qualify, with its sharp, icy top notes of carrot and coriander, and is deep, soft body of rooty soil? Or perhaps her Passage d’Enfer, which now to me seems like the perfect name for a Caravaggio scent.

    Finally, going along with the baroque aspect of his work, there really ought to be a note for those sparkling drops and pools of blood he paints so well. Pomegranate, perhaps? Something metallic? November 2, 2005 at 6:22pm Reply

  • Miriam: PS It also strikes me that perhaps a winey note could capture the dark, velvety, syrupy blood and the bunches of grapes in Caravaggio’s paintings. Especially since the bunches of grapes also have that religious significance.

    Did anyone else manage to catch the amazing exhibit of his later paintings at the National Gallery in London last spring? It was divine. The walls were black and the paintings simply shone on their own. November 2, 2005 at 6:26pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Miriam, what a perfect reflection on what chiaroscuro might smell like! Even before I finished reading what you wrote, I thought of Passage d’Enfer and its play on the shadows and light–white lily and translucent darkness of incense. It would be perfect given your criteria.

    Caravaggio is generally classified as a Baroque painter, however I am not art historian either, and the only art history classes I have taken were in college. He is definitely ahead of his time, whatever the case may be.

    How would I have loved to see the exhibit you are talking about! The setting sounds perfect for the paintings and the effects of light and colour he exploited so well. November 2, 2005 at 7:06pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: P.S. Yes, a winey metallic note would be a wonderful addition. If anything, this fragrance would have to have a dark edge, otherwise it cannot be inspired by Caravaggio! November 2, 2005 at 7:07pm Reply

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