By Alexis R. Culotta

Milanese painter Giuseppe arcimboldo died 11 July 1593. Arcimboldo artfully blended aspects of both the still life and allegorical painting traditions to conjure intricate portraits constructed out of found or collected objects that at times alluded to the sitter’s personality or profession.  

After launching his career with designs for stained glass windows for the Duomo of Milan in 1549, Arcimboldo later turned to portraiture where he developed a fan following. He was appointed court painter to Ferdinand I of Vienna in 1562 and later moved to the court of Maximilien II and his son, Rudolph II, at Prague. 

It was during these years as court painter that Arcimboldo fully developed his unusual portrait style, which he maintained for the remainder of his career; Vertumnus, a purported portrait of Rudolph II, was one of Arcimboldo’s final paintings completed after he had returned to Milan for his waning years.

Self-Portrait, 16th century. National Gallery of Prague.

Vertumnus (Rudolf II of Habsburg). 1590, Skokloster Castle, Stockholm.

The Librarian, c. 1570, Skokloster Castle, Stockholm.

Spring, c. 1563. Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando.

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