Allegory of Nature
Maerten van Heemskerck (Dutch, 1498-1574)
Not 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.


  • Artist Name: Maerten van Heemskerck (Dutch, 1498-1574)
  • Title: Allegory of Nature
  • Date: 1567
  • Medium: Oil on panel
  • Dimensions: overall: 14-3/8 x 63 in. (36.5 x 160 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation
  • Accession Number: F.1973.20.P
  • Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation

Object Information

Paul van Zuylen, Liège, Belguim, 1910, by inheritance to;
Albert van Zuylen, Liège (sale, Christie's, London, 29 June 1973, lot 40, ill, to);
[Cyril Humphris, London];
The Norton Simon Foundation.

Exposition d'oeuvres d'art ancien

  • Liège, Palais des Fêtes, 1910 to

[on loan]

  • Henry Art Gallery, 1973-07-25 to 1974-05-28
  • Weston, Wallace, Quarto,
  • Veldman, Ilja M., Simiolus, fig. 1, fig. 3, fig 4, fig. 8 pp. 128-139
  • Gerson, Horst, The Connoisseur, p. 163
  • Preibisz, Leon, Marten van Heemskerck, 1911, pp. 87
  • Hoogewerff, G. J., De Noord-Nederlandsche Schilderkunst, 1941, pp. 383-385
  • Grosshans, Rainald, Maerten van Heemskerk, Die Gemälde, 1980, no. 101, ill. 137 pp. 246-249
  • Sutton, Peter C., A Guide to Dutch Art in America, 1986, p. 215
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, pp. 34-35
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 971 p. 357
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Additional Artwork by Artist

Boaz and His Kinsmen at the Gate Maerten van Heemskerck 1549

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