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Mercury and Herse, c. 1710

Gerard Hoet

Dutch, 1648-1733
Oil on copper
22-3/4 x 27-1/4 in. (57.8 x 69.2 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon
© 2012 Norton Simon Art Foundation

Not on view

Hoet, a painter of history and genre subjects, was greatly influenced by French landscape painting. He traveled to Paris early in his career but settled in Utrecht, where he became a member of the Guild of St. Luke. The work here is indicative of Hoet's delicate and decorative style of painting.

The scene, from Ovid's "Metamorphoses," shows Mercury, identified by his winged feet, helmet and caduceus circling overhead. Gazing at Herse, who is returning from a celebration in honor of Minerva, he falls deeply in love. This is the moment typically represented in paintings of the subject. The winding procession that emerges from the distant horizon comes to a halt before the temple of Minerva. One of the major deities of ancient Greece and Rome, Minerva was celebrated for her qualities as the Goddess of Wisdom.

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