Summer by Giuseppe Arcimboldo

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1527-1593
The Four Seasons – Summer, 1563, oil on panel, 670×508 mm, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Giuseppe_Arcimboldo_-_Summer_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Beneath the blazing sun’s relentless heat / men and flocks are sweltering, / pines are scorched. / We hear the cuckoo’s voice; then sweet songs of the turtle dove and finch are heard. / Soft breezes stir the air….but threatening north wind sweeps them suddenly aside. The shepherd trembles, fearful of violent storm and what may lie ahead.     /     His limbs are now awakened from their repose by fear of lightning’s flash and thunder’s roar, as gnats and flies buzz furiously around.     /     Alas, his worst fears were justified, as the heavens roar and great hailstones beat down upon the proudly standing corn. This is Antonio Lucio Vivaldi’s (1678 – 1741) Sonnet of L’Estate (Summer). The great composer wrote it as a descriptive accompaniment, experts believe, for the music of his “Four Seasons.” Today the first day of Summer, I took the time to listen, read and look at Summer by Giuseppe Arcimboldo! It was a magical time! https://www.charlottesymphony.org/blog/vivaldis-four-seasons-poems/

Giuseppe Arcimboldo was a very popular artist among royalty and wealthy patrons of 16th-century Europe. He became the official artist and Master of Festivals for three successive German Emperors. He was also in charge of creating costumes, stage settings, chariots, creative waterworks, and other diversions for courtly events and ceremonies. Last but not least, he directed the acquisitions for the royal cabinet of curiosities, which included art, antiques, curios, oddities of nature, and exotic animals and birds. https://www.denverartmuseum.org/en/edu/object/summer 

Four hundred years later, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, is considered the great master of Renaissance allegorical painting. He is celebrated for using flowers, fruits, and vegetables, associated with the Seasons of the year, to create paintings of whimsical “composite heads,” and thus, he acquired international fame and fortune! For Emperor Maximilian II, for example, he painted in 1563, his signature Portraits of the 4 Seasons, exhibited today in Vienna, Paris, and Madrid. The 1563 set of four “composite” Portraits of the Seasons became so popular, that the artist replicated them multiple times over the course of his life. The originals, gifted to Maximilian II, were the plainest and most unadorned of all sets he later created.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1527-1593
The Four Seasons – Summer (detail), 1563, oil on panel, 670×508 mm, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria
https://dyscover24x7.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/1seaso21.jpg

Archiboldo’s 1563 Portrait of Summer is the perfect example to celebrate the beginning of the Summer season. Interestingly, it is on “Summer” that Arcimboldo chooses to sign his name for the series, carefully woven into her gown. Hidden in the dress’s collar is “Giuseppe Arcimboldi • F,” where the F stands for “Fecit” meaning “he has done it,” and in the sleeve of the gown is the date of completion “1563.” The date in the original Portraits of the 4 Seasons is very important to help scholars date the artist’s subsequent copies, and discern changes in the composition. http://omeka.wustl.edu/omeka/exhibits/show/arcimboldo-s-gift–the-fantast/fourseasons/summer

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1527-1593
The Four Seasons – Summer (detail of signature), 1563, oil on panel, 670×508 mm, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Giuseppe_Arcimboldo_-_Summer_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg
Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1527-1593
The Four Seasons – Summer, 1563, oil on panel, 670×508 mm, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Giuseppe_Arcimboldo_-_Summer_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg The Four Seasons – Spring, 1563, oil on canvas, 76×63.5 cm, Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid, Spain
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Giuseppe_Arcimboldo_-_La_Primavera_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

A comparison between Arcimboldo’s Portraits of Spring and Summer is helpful and revealing. Spring is presented as a youthful, flowery, “fresh” girl, while Summer, is a young woman, mature and fertile. The Portrait of Spring is composed entirely of flowers and bright green leaves. The Portrait of Summer is a lush arrangement of heavy, ripe fruit and vegetables, bountiful, unblemished, but matured. Arcimboldo uses a large peach for the cheeks, quince, garlic, young white onions, yellow beets, and white eggplant. The mouth and lips are formed of cherries and the open peapod within imitates a row of teeth. The nose is a young wild cucumber, and the chin is a pear, the eye shines as a glassy sour cherry between two small pears… What an arrangement! My favorite part is what Lady-Summer wears… a hat made of fruit and vegetables bedded in greenery, from which emerge oat spikes resembling a hat feather, a magnificent, sur mesure, woven straw jacket, and a single artichoke presented as a special, luxurious piece of jewelry! What an opulent vision the Portrait of Summer is!   https://www.teachercurator.com/art/spring-by-giuseppe-arcimboldo/ and https://www.wga.hu/html_m/a/arcimbol/3allegor/1seaso2.html and http://omeka.wustl.edu/omeka/exhibits/show/arcimboldo-s-gift–the-fantast/fourseasons/summer

For a PowerPoint of the Four Seasons by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, please… Check HERE!

I would like to draw your attention to a modern take of Arcimboldo’s The 4 Seasons paintings… a set of four and a half meters high fiberglass sculptures of the Four Seasons by American artist and filmmaker Philip Haas, created in 2012. Interesting… to say the least! https://crystalbridges.org/blog/the-four-seasons-philip-haas-interprets-giuseppe-arcimboldo/

Philip Haas, b. 1954
The Four Seasons – Summer, 2012, fiberglass, H. 4.572 m, first seen in the garden of the Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, UK
https://laughingsquid.com/giant-head-sculptures-representing-four-seasons/

Spring by Giuseppe Arcimboldo

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1527-1593
The Four Seasons – Spring, 1563, oil on canvas, 76×63.5 cm, Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid, Spain
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Giuseppe_Arcimboldo_-_La_Primavera_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Festive Spring has arrived, / The birds salute it with their happy song. / And the brooks, caressed by little Zephyrs, / Flow with a sweet murmur. / The sky is covered with a black mantle, / And thunder, and lightning, announce a storm. / When they are silent, the birds / Return to sing their lovely song     /     And in the meadow, rich with flowers, / To the sweet murmur of leaves and plants, / The goatherd sleeps, with his faithful dog at his side.     /     To the festive sound of pastoral bagpipes, / Dance nymphs and shepherds, / At Spring’s brilliant appearance. This is Antonio Lucio Vivaldi’s (1678 – 1741) Sonnet A Primavera (Spring). The great composer wrote it as a descriptive accompaniment, experts believe, for the music of his “Four Seasons.” Today the first day of Spring, I took the time to listen and read Vivaldi’s music and sonnet, looking at Spring by Giuseppe Arcimboldo! It was a magical time! https://www.charlottesymphony.org/blog/vivaldis-four-seasons-poems/

A scion of a noble and artistic family, his father was an artist, and his uncle held the position of Archbishop of Milan, Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1526–1593) was in all probability introduced to artists, scholars, and writers from a young age. Born and raised in Milan, the cradle of Renaissance naturalism, young Arcimboldo learned a mode of artistic expression based on the direct observation of nature. Well-trained as an artist Arcimboldo was commissioned to do exceptional work since the age of 21. For example, in 1549 he was commissioned to design stained glass windows for the Duomo, in 1551 he painted coats of arms for the future Emperor, Ferdinand I, in 1556, he created frescoes for the Cathedral of Monza; and, in 1558, he drew the cartoon for the Dormition of the Virgin tapestry, which remains on display in the Como Cathedral in Lombardi to this day. https://www.theartstory.org/artist/arcimboldo-giuseppe/life-and-legacy/#biography_header and file:///C:/Users/aspil/OneDrive/Blog/Renaissance%20Mannerism/Arcimboldo%20ScoopNGA.pdf

Arcimboldo’s friend, the Milanese art critic, and travelogue author, Paolo Morigia writes for him… This is a painter (Arcimboldo) with a rare talent […] having proved his worth both as an artist and as a bizarre painter, not only in his own country but also abroad, he has been given the highest praise, in that word of his fame has reached the Emperor’s court in Germany.” The “court” Morigia refers to, is the court of the Habsburg rulers in Vienna first, where Arcimboldo moved in 1563 at the age of thirty-six, and Prague later, where he served as court painter for twenty-five years. https://www.theartstory.org/artist/arcimboldo-giuseppe/life-and-legacy/#biography_header and file:///C:/Users/aspil/OneDrive/Blog/Renaissance%20Mannerism/Arcimboldo%20ScoopNGA.pdf

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1527-1593
The Four Seasons – Spring (detail), 1563, oil on canvas, 76×63.5 cm, Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid, Spain
https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Figura-16-Giuseppe-Arcimboldo-La-Primavera-1563-Real-Academia-de-Bellas-Artes-de-San_fig16_318795156

While in Vienna, to celebrate the reign of Emperor Maximilian II, Arcimboldo created his “ signature Portraits of the 4 Seasons,” composed of imaginatively arranging elements of nature like plants, flowers, fruits, and vegetables. For each “Portrait” (Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter), created in 1563, Arcimboldo combined plants associated with a particular season to form a portrait of that time of year. The series proved extremely popular in the Habsburg court, and Arcimboldo reproduced it several times so the emperor could send versions to friends and important political figures. file:///C:/Users/aspil/OneDrive/Blog/Renaissance%20Mannerism/Arcimboldo%20ScoopNGA.pdf

Closely associated with Mother Earth, Arcimboldo’s “Spring”, the first in his Four Seasons series, takes the form of a youthful woman composed entirely of flowers and bright green leaves. Arcimboldo uses roses and daises, tulips and lily buds, green leaves like strawberry stems, and large leaves of a dandelion plant. In profile, and smiling, showing her lilies of the valley teeth, “Spring” seems fully aware of her beauty and the joy that looking upon her countenance will bring to a viewer. Her youth and beauty are a fitting opening to the series, and the beginnings of the cycle of life and the seasons. http://omeka.wustl.edu/omeka/exhibits/show/arcimboldo-s-gift–the-fantast/fourseasons/spring

For a PowerPoint of the 4 Seasons by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, please… Check HERE!

A monumental installation in the grounds of the Dulwich Picture Gallery in South London of The Four Seasons, a set of four fifteen-foot fiberglass sculptures by American artist and film-maker Philip Haas in 2012
https://poulwebb.blogspot.com/2012/06/giuseppe-arcimboldo.html

I would like to draw your attention to a modern take of Arcimboldo’s The 4 Seasons paintings… a set of four and a half meters high fiberglass sculptures of the Four Seasons by American artist and film-maker Philip Haas, created in 2012. Interesting… to say the least! https://crystalbridges.org/blog/the-four-seasons-philip-haas-interprets-giuseppe-arcimboldo/

A monumental installation in the grounds of the Dulwich Picture Gallery in South London of The Four Seasons (photo of The Spring), a set of four fifteen-foot fiberglass sculptures by American artist and film-maker Philip Haas in 2012
https://poulwebb.blogspot.com/2012/06/giuseppe-arcimboldo.html