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Biographies >Giuseppe ARCIMBOLDO > see his works
Italian Manierist Painter

Arcimboldo, Giuseppe.

Born in Milan about 1527, it would result from a noble family but connects of worse reputation, his grandfather being a natural child. He will seek to find a nobility through a real or imaginary filiation with Charlemagne, but will however reach that point thanks to his work unreal which will enchant the court of Habsbourg.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo is the name most usually allotted to this artist, with whom it also sometimes happened to sign Arcimboldi or Arcimboldus; also various first names are known to him: Joseph, Josepho, Josephus&

Sometimes satirical, perhaps metaphysics but always very decorative, its pictures at the same time ludic and strange, were regarded as true curiosities, although recognized extremely late, with the favour of the rediscovery by the surrealist ones of the visual pun.

He indeed obtains confirmation of the family nobility by Rodolphe II, which confers to him at the end of its life the title of Count Palatine.

At 22 years he starts to be made known, while working with his father, craftsman painter with the cathedral of Milan. It builds paperboards of stained glasses then, then quickly, points out itself by Ferdinand de Bohème which orders five blazons for the cathedral to him.

It is destined for Prague in 1562 with the service of Ferdinand 1st become emperor, as portraitist, function will continue under the reigns of Maximilien II and Rodolphe II.

Apart from some portraits of court, it has then as a principal task to enrichir famous Wunderkamern, Art cabinets and of curiosities of the emperors Maximilien and Rodolphe. Endowed of a inventive and clever spirit, the organisation of the princely festivals is entrusted to him and it is named to advise artistic for the formation of the imperial collections.

It's just after its arrival with the service Ferdinand 1st that Giuseppe Arcimboldo begins first the four seasons series, and lets burst a pictorial style surprising singularity: "heads made up" formed allegorical portraits juxtaposition of fruits, vegetables, plants, symbolizing the seasons. This work causes a considerable passion at the court. It will paint other series the four seasons in 1572 and 1573 (a four seasons series is in the Louvre , of which the Autumn gone back to 1573).

Somme others portraits mix animal or objects: four elements ( Fire and Water , 1566, are in Kunsthistorisches Museum of Vienna ) or personifications of trades ( the Librarian , the Gardener ).

It obtains from Rodolphe II the favour to turn over to Italy to finish its days there, promising to continue to paint. Flora will be one of her last tables.

This artist with the multiple gifts will dead in 1593 in Milan.

These works metaphorical and fantastic, true curiosities, "extravagances" or "whims" according to some, will be after a long lapse of memory, rediscoveries and handing-over with honnor by the surrealist ones.

1997 Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2002 ® online © 1997-2001 Microsoft Corporation.
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