Mercury and Herse

Gerard Hoet (Dutch, 1648-1733)
c. 1710
Oil on copper 
22-3/4 x 27-1/4 in. (57.8 x 69.2 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon 
Accession Number:
© Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Not on View

This finely detailed mythological scene narrates the story of Mercury and Herse, an episode from Ovid’s Metamorphoses in which the Greek god, identified by his winged feet, helmet and caduceus, spies three sisters returning from the festival of Minerva and falls in love with Herse, the most beautiful of the three. Herse's sister Aglauros will become envious of Mercury's infatuation with Herse and will attempt to intervene, a rash decision that ends with Mercury turning her to stone. Hoet has chosen to depict the moment at which Mercury, circling overhead, first catches sight of Herse, a graceful maiden in classical garb at the center of the composition.


Possibly Melrose Hall, Wandsworth, Surrey (sale London, Farebrother, 14 July 1824, lot 34, for gns. 18.7).
Idestam Family, Reval.
Sesemann, St. Petersburg.
James Whittick-Kunau, Helsinki.
[Svensk-Engelska Konstgalleriet (Fredrik Dahlstrom), Stockholm, 1937].
Private Collection (sale, London, Sotheby's, 10 July 1974, lot 92, to);
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

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