By Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann
In Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s most renowned work, grapes, fish, or even the beaks of birds shape human hair. A pear stands in for a man’s chin. Citrus culmination sprout from a tree trunk that doubles as a neck. every kind of common phenomena come jointly on canvas and panel to gather the unusual heads and faces that represent certainly one of Renaissance art’s so much remarkable oeuvres. the 1st significant research in a iteration of the artist in the back of those outstanding work, Arcimboldo tells the singular tale in their creation. Drawing on his thirty-five-year engagement with the artist, Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann starts with an summary of Arcimboldo’s existence and paintings, exploring the artist’s early years in sixteenth-century Lombardy, his grounding in Leonardesque traditions, and his tenure as a Habsburg court docket portraitist in Vienna and Prague. Arcimboldo then trains its concentrate on the prestigious composite heads, imminent them as visible jokes with critical underpinnings—images that poetically reveal pictorial wit whereas conveying an allegorical message. as well as probing the humanistic, literary, and philosophical dimensions of those items, Kaufmann explains that they include their creator’s non-stop engagement with nature portray and traditional historical past. He finds, in truth, that Arcimboldo painted many extra nature experiences than students have realized—a discovering that considerably deepens present interpretations of the composite heads. Demonstrating the formerly neglected significance of those works to traditional historical past and still-life portray, Arcimboldo ultimately restores the artist’s very good visible jokes to their rightful position within the background of either technological know-how and paintings.
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Additional info for Arcimboldo: Visual Jokes, Natural History, and Still-Life Painting
Heads. While many such studies have been identified in the past two decades, many more are presented here for the first time, along with newly identified studies of plants and flowers. The existence of such a large stock of nature studies by Arcimboldo should cause major rethinking of his artistic interests in general and of his composite heads in particular. Nature studies are, however, taken into account neither by recent critiques nor by most other previous views of Arcimboldo, which, even when they reflect upon the continuing resonance of his composite paintings, do not recognize his role in the origination of several other new genres.
What he had accomplished by 1561 would probably have remained merely a footnote in the history of painting in Lombardy. 2 Little in Arcimboldo’s earlier career anticipates these inventions. During his early years he appears on the scene as a peripatetic but minor, if multitalented, master. Like many other artists of the cinquecento, he earned his living with a wide variety of jobs. In this regard he can be said to have been prepared to take on numerous tasks at the imperial court. Prior to his coming north, however, little trace can be discovered of those specific visual elements—either the naturalistic details or their aggregation— that are found his composite paintings, not to mention their more general characteristics: their complex and witty mixture of erudition, naturalism, and entertainment, or their presentation of serious content in a seemingly joking form.
Carlo Urbino is also said to have made paintings that were composites like Arcimboldo’s, and it is possible that the artists competed in this realm as well. In addition to Melzi, Carlo Urbino was deeply involved in the study of Leonardo’s manuscripts and drawings. 49 Girolamo Figino had been a pupil of Melzi: various bits of evidence demonstrate that he was also engaged in the study of Leonardo’s manuscripts. 50 Other sources indicate that Figino shared the interest evinced by the Codex Huygens in studies of human proportion.