I had been waiting for a really cold snap to come along before completing my look at Arcimboldo’s seasons (Spring, Summer, Autumn) with his personifications of Winter, but the weather has not obliged, and, while it has been cold, and indeed is cold today, we’ve scarcely seen the thermometer descend as far as five below zero. Unless the season contrives a late flourish of frigidity, we'll not see skaters on the sea this year, nor scenes like this.
Of the present ‘composed heads,’ the first, of impeccable pedigree, is in Vienna, and is perhaps the first canvas on the subject that Arcimboldo painted, in 1562. It is followed by two other later copies, the former from a set of four seasons made in 1573, and now to be found in Paris; and the latter, of somewhat less well-authenticated provenance, which, provided it has not changed hands in the twenty-odd years since the book from which I scanned these images was published, belongs to a 1572 set of seasons housed in a private collection in Bergamo.
Several of Arcimboldo’s works are known to have been lost. It is thought that the following prints, published in Venice by one Giovanni Francesco Comocio, in 1567 and ’69 respectively, depict two lost ‘composed heads.’ There is documentary evidence for a canvas of Arcimboldo’s on the theme of Agriculture; and a personification of Cookery was one of a pair of his paintings known to have been in the Müller collection in Prague until WWII.
A week or two ago, I received an e-mail from Romania—in English and German—inquiring as to whether I knew anything of the whereabouts of another lost work of Arcimboldo’s: his Trojan Horse (below). Alas, I do not, and thus cannot lay claim to the $500 US reward for information being offered. In the unlikely event that anyone reading this knows something relevant, and is interested in the possibility of exchanging this knowledge for money, then by all means get in touch with me, and I will forward the Romanian e-mail address to you. The same person is also looking for information on The Slaughter of Babies by King Herod’s Soldiers, a painting by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.
As with my previous entries on this subject, my main source for the images, and other information, has been my copy of the 1980 FMR book on Arcimboldo. Click on the images to see them enlarged.Posted by misteraitch at February 9, 2005 10:47 AM | TrackBack