Image: Summer (1563). Oil on panel. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.
This is the first week of summer. Which gives us reason to return to our friend Arcimboldo who painted a series of paintings depicting the seasons as portraits. Don’t miss the “ear” of corn!
From the National Gallery guide to accompany the exhibit in D.C. from a few years back:
Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1526 – 1593) was born into a family of painters in the northern Italian city of Milan. The city was considered the cradle of naturalism, a mode of artistic expression based on the direct observation of nature. This approach to art was shaped by Leonardo da Vinci, whose work Arcimboldo likely studied in Milan.
In 1563, at the age of thirty-six, Arcimboldo left Italy to work in the imperial courts of the Habsburg rulers, first for Maximilian II in Vienna and then for Rudolf II in Prague. He served as court painter for twenty-five years, creating portraits of the imperial family.
On the origin of the series:
To celebrate the reign of Emperor Maximilian II, Arcimboldo presented two series of composite heads: The Seasons and The Elements. In The Seasons (Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter), created in 1563, Arcimboldo combined plants associated with a par- ticular season to form a portrait of that time of year. The series was extremely popular in the Habsburg court, and Arcimboldo reproduced it several times so the emperor could send versions to friends and important political figures.
Does this make you hungry for farm-to-table dining? Check out our dining guide with more than 200 recommended restaurants for Washington, D.C. You can search the LIST by neighborhood, rating, or cuisine. It is also displayed in MAP format.