Allegory of Nature

Maerten van Heemskerck (Dutch, 1498-1574)
Oil on panel 
overall: 14-3/8 x 63 in. (36.5 x 160 cm) 
Credit Line:
The Norton Simon Foundation 
Accession Number:
© 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.


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.

Image reproduction permission may be granted for scholarly or arts related commercial use. All image requests, regardless of their intended purpose, should be submitted via email. Requests can also be made by fax or mail.

Images may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. Additional permission may be required.

Approved requests for the reproduction of an image will receive a contract detailing all fees and conditions of use of the image. Upon receipt of both the signed contract and full payment, the Office of Rights and Reproductions will provide the image. A complimentary copy of the published material must be provided to the Norton Simon Museum.

Please fill out our Online Reproduction Request Form.