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Allegory of Nature, 1567

Maerten van Heemskerck

Dutch, 1498-1574
Oil on panel
overall: 14-3/8 x 63 in. (36.5 x 160 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1973.20.P
© The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

A prolific artist of great inventiveness and skill, van Heemskerck was one of the most significant Dutch artists of the sixteenth century. He is best known for his paintings that concentrate on the human figure, particularly the athletic, statuesque body, in decorative and intricate attitudes. In "Allegory of Nature," he represents an escape into an imaginary, trouble-free world, a kind of lovers' paradise. The amorous pastimes and park-like setting, lying outside the walls of the city, belong to the tradition of calendar and "garden of love" representations. Fresh green colors and the diaphanous haze of pale grays and whites indicate the season as spring, traditionally linked with love and youth. It should be noted that music is prominent among the pleasures enjoyed; the unusually extended, oblong shape of the panel indicates that it originally served to decorate a keyboard instrument.

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