February 09, 2005

Of Winters & Lost Works

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.

'Winter', Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1562 (Vienna).

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.

'Winter', Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1573 (Paris).


'Winter', Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1572 (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.

Composed head design on a theme of Agriculture, prob. after a painting of Arcimboldo's, Venice, 1567.


Composed head design on a theme of Cookery, prob. after a painting of Arcimboldo's, Venice, 1569.

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.

Photograph of Arcimboldo's lost 'Trojan Horse.'

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

Thanks for Arcimboldo. I love his works.
I posted some things about him some weeks ago, but I didn't know those two last images. Thanks again.

Posted by: Bibi on February 10, 2005 11:31 AM

This morning I feel exactly like Humani Victus Instrumenta. If I take a tylenol will it go away? And will I be restored to full color?

Posted by: Melinama on February 13, 2005 04:01 PM

its a great website please send some to me im doing acribodo in art many thanks

Posted by: Beckie on June 9, 2005 06:17 PM

It was shit shit shit man i think its a crap website get rid of it wankers
& ave a blow job

Posted by: Anthony Blackledge on June 9, 2005 06:20 PM

esse site eh muito bom,fiqueiimprecionada comas telas de legumes....o artista eh realmente muitoimprecionante........

Posted by: gabriela on September 30, 2005 02:41 PM

An email FROM ROMANIA offering money in exchange of a piece of information????? That's peculiar! The paintings market is not of any notice here...
May they were the solder who stole the painting and he is having some fun now or just making sure nobody knows that he has the painting.
May be you can publish a special post about lost (or "lost") paintings during WWII. Is there a book debating this subject?

Posted by: Tia O'Connor on March 6, 2007 09:05 AM

Tia—yes, it is rather odd. I’ve passed on the address to two hopeful claimants, but don’t know if either one made any money (or indeed, if the offer is still open…)

The subject of lost works is a large and an inviting one, although I haven't looked for any specific books on the topic.

Posted by: misteraitch on March 6, 2007 01:02 PM
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