Friday, 12 August 2011

Summer with Guiseppe....

Guiseppe Arcimboldo, 1527 - 1593

Arcimboldo was an Italian painter best known for
creating imaginative portrait heads made entirely of such objects
as fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, and books - that is,
he painted representations of these objects on the canvas arranged in such a way
that the whole collection of objects formed a recognizable likeness of the portrait subject.

Arcimboldo does not look like a fun person in this self portrait,
but he was skilled and imaginative in his art,
and is most famous for his "portraits" of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter:
'The Four Seasons'

Following on from my posts for  Winter   here 
and  Spring  here

now here comes Summer:

This picture of Summer, 
which is now in the Kunsthisorisches Museum in Vienna,
forms part of Arcimboldo's first series of the Four Seasons.
Like other pictures of Summer,
it bears the inscription "Guiseppe Arcimboldo F." on the collar of the figure.
There are only minor differences from the one he painted 10 years later in 1573,
 whereas it differs more obviously from the other two 'Summer',
both with regard to composition and in the design of the head dress.

Like Spring, this picture belongs to the complete series of the Four Seasons
which is now in the Musée National du Louvre in Paris.
What is said about the garlands around the Spring picture  here
also applies to this one.
Both Summer and Spring are human heads in profile.
Summer consists entirely of different kinds of summer fruit and vegetables.
The glowing colours of the head stand out in bold relief against the dark background.
Also here on the broad, stiff collar he has delicately woven the words
"Guiseppe Arcimboldo - F."  The F stands for fecit ("he has done it").
This is the painter's way of authenticating his work of art.
On the shoulder there is the date of the painting: 1573

Summer, 1572
Private collection, Berlin

Summer, undated
Bayerische Staatsgemaeldesammlungen, Munich

This depiction of Summer is the most unusual one among the four paintings shown here.
A close study of the individual elements may reveal that
in a number of places the paint was applied rather more spontaneously.

 Guiseppe Arcimboldo
"...perfect in his uniqueness, as are only the great".


The order of the Seasons is full of symbolical symmetry.
There are always two matching heads in profile, one of them facing left,
 the other right and expressing a special relationship between the seasons they symbolize.

The Air of Spring   here 
shows up the glowing colours of flowers in blossom.
Summer and Fire both share a common star as their point of reference - the sun.

 Fire, 1566

In this allegory Arcimboldo depicted several different types of fire,
ranging from the small light of an oil-lamp or a candle 
to the tremendous power of cannons and guns.
A flame can be kindled by striking the two pieces of steel (the nose and the ear)
against the flint which decorates the Golden Fleece.
This will light the little oil-lamp (the chin of the figure),
the bundle of spills (the moustache), the rolled-up taper candle (the forehead complete with wrinkles)
and finally the pile of firewood, whose flames surround the head like a crown.

There is hardly any other work of Arcimboldo's which is more explicit in its references to the Hapsburgs.
The neck is separated from the body by the chain of the Golden Fleece,
which was one of the most important orders of the time.
Duke Philipp of Burgundy gave it to the Hapsburgs on the day of his wedding 1429.
Like many others, he became one of the Hapsburgs through marriage.

What is even more significant is the presence of the double eagle,
the symbol of the Holy Roman Empire of which the Hapsburgs were emperors
at the time of Arcimboldo.
Finally there are the gun and the cannons.  These may well have served
the purpose of emphasizing the great military power of the Hapsburgs rulers,
then at war with Turkey


All images: Benedikt Taschen Verlag GmbH


  1. O Mr. Arcimboldo you paint so nice, but you can't make summerweather!

    Liebe Karin, bin ich froh, wenn ich *ganz bald* in südlichere Gefilde komme!
    Die Provence erwartet uns hoffentlich mit besserem Wetter als es hier in Franken ist!

    Herzlicher Gruß ins Périgord!

  2. Hi Karin, love your new header, so pleasing and peaceful, so unlike your Arcimboldo images...disturbing and fascinating at the same time. Very interesting post.

  3. What an interesting post. I learned something new today. Thank you :-)

    Have a great weekend :-)


  4. Dear Karin,

    Beautiful new header! Some of these pieces of art make us hungry and then we realize it's a persons face (eeeekkk)! What an creative imagination and disciplined artist.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    Renee and Angela

  5. Karin your new header is wonderful and doesn't it just say "France"! Love the artwork but the guy had to have been a little off to think of such a thing huh? Enjoy yuor weekend!

  6. Hi Karin!
    I always learn something interesting here!!!!The image of the lily is gorgeous!!!!!!!!!Thanks! Bisous! Maryanne

  7. I love Archimboldo! And I actually have a friend in Paris that ownes two of them, and I must tell you that they are stunning up close.

    I think it was 3 or 4 years ago in Paris that they have great exhibit at the Luxembourg Gardens palace, which was also spectacular.

    Loved this post!