It has been a poor sort of summer in Sweden: one newspaper report I saw said that this June was the coolest here since 1928. So far, July has been no better. The weather continues to lurch indecisively from the pleasantly vernal to the greyly autumnal, and the last few days’ rain has tricked mushrooms into raising their heads from the damp soil in Admiralty Park as if it were already October. I can still hope that we’ll see some of the blazing sunshine that was so prevalent during our last two summers here: ideally, it should arrive by the start of August, when we’ll be on vacation.
Regardless of the weather, I am presenting here three versions of Summer by Giuseppe Arcimboldo. The first (above) belongs to his original set of four seasons, dating from 1563, and is housed in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. The second picture (below) is from a complete set of seasons dating from 1573, that today hang in the Louvre. If you look at the figures’ collars of plaited straw, you will see Arcimboldo’s ‘signature’ thereupon: in the various sets of four seasons, the Summer pictures alone bear his name.
It is the inexact spelling of the artist’s surname on the third of these pictures (below) that has ‘raised doubts about the attribution of this series [a set of four seasons in a private collection in Bergamo] to the highly meticulous hand of Giuseppe Arcimboldo.’ There is apparently yet another Summer bearing the same date as this one (1572) in a collection in Lausanne.