Netherlandish painters did not show figures engaged in different work in order to obtain a "snapshot" effect. During the Renaissance they were more interested in the intellectual side of a picture, while after it, due to their purely aesthetic aims, they changed from humanists into painters. It was their great talent which made possible this development and saved the Dutch from an artistic impasse. For the Renaissance had aimed at a synthesis of art and intellect but after a short period when the ideal appeared to have been reached, painting threatened to degenerate into pseudo-learning, into a thoughtless repetition of subjects of earlier days.
The Cook is indisputably the most noble product of this triumph of art over pure intellect. It seems hard to connect it with the theme of the five senses. The painting itself does not seem to have any particular meaning.