By Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann
In Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s most renowned work, grapes, fish, or even the beaks of birds shape human hair. A pear stands in for a man’s chin. Citrus end result sprout from a tree trunk that doubles as a neck. all kinds of typical phenomena come jointly on canvas and panel to gather the unusual heads and faces that represent one in all Renaissance art’s such a lot awesome oeuvres. the 1st significant research in a iteration of the artist in the back of those notable work, Arcimboldo tells the singular tale in their creation. Drawing on his thirty-five-year engagement with the artist, Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann starts off with an summary of Arcimboldo’s lifestyles and paintings, exploring the artist’s early years in sixteenth-century Lombardy, his grounding in Leonardesque traditions, and his tenure as a Habsburg court docket portraitist in Vienna and Prague. Arcimboldo then trains its specialize in the prestigious composite heads, drawing close them as visible jokes with critical underpinnings—images that poetically reveal pictorial wit whereas conveying an allegorical message. as well as probing the humanistic, literary, and philosophical dimensions of those items, Kaufmann explains that they embrace their creator’s non-stop engagement with nature portray and common heritage. He finds, in truth, that Arcimboldo painted many extra nature stories than students have realized—a discovering that considerably deepens present interpretations of the composite heads. Demonstrating the formerly ignored significance of those works to average heritage and still-life portray, Arcimboldo eventually restores the artist’s marvelous visible jokes to their rightful position within the background of either technology and artwork.
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Additional resources for Arcimboldo: Visual Jokes, Natural History, and Still-Life Painting
65 These passages on how fantasia can be stimulated to simulate nature belong to a continuing Renaissance discussion of the power of the imagination to create or invent forms. The description of images seen in spots is related to several commonplaces or topoi of ancient writing. One of these is the Aristotelian idea of the power of the imagination to project images into things such as clouds; another is the idea of the image made by chance. For instance, in addition to Botticelli and Leonardo, Piero di Cosimo was also said to derive compositions from spots on walls or in clouds.
Carlo Urbino is also said to have made paintings that were composites like Arcimboldo’s, and it is possible that the artists competed in this realm as well. In addition to Melzi, Carlo Urbino was deeply involved in the study of Leonardo’s manuscripts and drawings. 49 Girolamo Figino had been a pupil of Melzi: various bits of evidence demonstrate that he was also engaged in the study of Leonardo’s manuscripts. 50 Other sources indicate that Figino shared the interest evinced by the Codex Huygens in studies of human proportion.
109 With such images we are not far from Arcimboldo’s composites. The concepts on which the satyr medals (especially those made up of various animals) rely in particular—physiognomy, the serious joke, and harmony—apply also to Arcimboldo. The heads made out of cazzi (male members) and of animals are also better understood in relation to Arcimboldo according to what we now know about the natural historical, humanist, and political features of the artist’s interests, as explained further in the present book.
Arcimboldo: Visual Jokes, Natural History, and Still-Life Painting by Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann