Allegory of Nature as the Mother of Art, Jan van Hemessen, 1540 - 1557
A partially nude woman sprinkles milk from her breast on a man’s viol. This enigmatic scene may represent Mother Nature, who inspires and nourishes Art. Van Hemessen was a leading Antwerp painter in the second quarter of the 16th century. His figures betray a marked Italian influence, especially in his use of soft, ‘smoky’ contours, the so-called sfumato painting technique.