Berchem made the four seasons for an Amsterdam collector. They were inteded as overdoor pieces for his house on the Herengracht. The series became separated at the end of the nineteenth century. Summer has been at the Mauritshuis since 1992, but now the four seasons are reunited.
Each painting shows a medaillon with a chariot carrying the personification of the season. Figures and symbols connect each season with one of the four elements: spring with air, summer with fire, autumn with earth and winter with water.
Berchem is known mainly as a painter of Italianate landscapes, although he also painted decorative scenes, such as these allegories.
Herman van Swoll, Amsterdam, c.1670-1698; his sale, Amsterdam, 22 April 1699, no. 20 (the entire series for 570 guilders); private collection, Amsterdam; anonymous sale, Amsterdam, 13 July 1718 (Lugt 267), no. 5 (the entire series for 505 guilders); sale Amsterdam (Daniel Adrianus Beukelaar), 22 May 1731 (Lugt 409a), no. 1; Morel collection, Paris; Morel sale, Paris (Lebrun), 3 May 1786 (Lugt 4025 and 4040), no. 70 (the entire series for 7801 livres to Langlier); Jacques Langlier Gallery, Paris, 1786-1789; his sale (‘Lenglier’), Paris (Lebrun), 15 April 1789 (Lugt 4422 and 4429), no. 50 (unsold); private collection, Paris, until 1834; Marseille Middleton Holloway, London; his sale, London, 1872 (the entire series for 170 pounds to Nieuwenhuys); Charles J. Nieuwenhuys Gallery, Brussels and London, 1872-1886; his sale, London (Christie’s), 17 July 1886 (Lugt 45927), no. 55 (together with inv. no. 1220 for 49 guineas to McLean); McLean collection, London; Eugène Fischof Gallery, Paris (together with inv. no. 1220); anonymous sale, London (Christie’s), 22 June 1901, no. 3; anonymous collection, United States, until 1924; A.- G. (Boehler & Steinmeyer) Gallery, Lucerne, 1924-1927; D. Katz Gallery, Dieren, 1927; A.- G. Luzern (Boehler & Steinmeyer) Gallery, Lucerne, 1934; anonymous collection, The Netherlands, 1934 (via D. Katz Gallery, Dieren?); sale The Hague (Van Marle and Bignell), 3 May 1944, no. 10 (offered for sale by ‘Schilderijen en Antiquiteitenhandel v/h D. Katz N.V.’, Dieren/The Hague; for 10.500 guilders to Dik on commission of Schmidt); J. Dik Gallery, Amsterdam, 1944; Führermuseum, Linz (Linz number 3479; bought for 12.180 guilders from Dik); Central Collecting Point, Altaussee, 1945; Central Collecting Point, Munich, 8 July 1945-8 July 1946; NK collection (inv. no. NK 2732), since 1946, kept by Stichting Nederlands Kunstbezit (SNK) / Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst (RBK), The Hague / Instituut Collectie Nederland (ICN), Amsterdam-Rijswijk / Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed/Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE), Amersfoort-Rijswijk; on loan to the Kunsthistorisch Instituut, Utrecht, from 1948; on loan to the Prince William V Gallery, The Hague, from 1977; on loan to the Mauritshuis, The Hague, 1992-2010; transferred by the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands into the keeping of the Mauritshuis, 2010
This painting is part of the Netherlands Art Property Collection (‘NK collection’): objects that were stolen, seized or purchased during the Nazi regime. After the Second World War they were placed under the administration of the Dutch State. In recent decades, applications for restitution are taken into consideration again and some objects have been
returned to the heirs of their rightful owners.