Giuseppe Arcimboldo | Slightly Off Cemter Painter of
Italian Renaissance Mannerist artist Giuseppe
Arcimboldo (1527-1593) (pronounced Gew-seppy Arc-em-boldo)
was a court painter and imperial party-planner to several
sixteenth-century Italian emperors: Ferdinand I,
Maximilian II, and Rudolf II. Giuseppe Arcimboldo was probably
a student of Leonardo da Vinci.
1563-64, Oil on wood, 66,5 x 50,5 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Click here to see
our fine art puzzle
of this famous image.
Giuseppe Arcimboldo owes his reputation to the series of
composite portraits of heads made up of a variety of objects,
both natural and man-made. Most of these paintings were created
at the court of Rudolf II, who hired Giuseppe as his court
painter, placing him at the center of Rudolf's eccentric
menagerie of artists, scientists and charlatans.
Arcimboldo's job included the task of endlessly copying
portraits for the imperial family, and other heads of state. In
the sixteenth century every painting had to be copied by hand.
Just as they had to copy every book by hand. It was during
the endless hours spent in his studio that Giuseppe came up
with the style of painting that would forever separate him from
the other painters of his day.
The Composite Head
Giuseppe Arcimboldo began to paint portraits of people not
as we see them, but with rendered clumps of mammals, fish,
vegetables and other natural objects. Instead of a nose, you
might see an elephant, instead of an ear, you might see a
pelican or alligator. To this new style Giuseppe Arcimboldo
applied his great talent and style.
Brenda Harness, Art Historian