Follower of Giuseppe Arcimboldo
Winter, 17th or 18th c.
oil on canvas, in a painted oval
77 x 99 cm. (30 1/3 x 39 in.)
Jacques Kugel Antiquaire, Paris, acquired at auction c. 1958-63.
Private Collection, France, acquired from the above in 1969.
The Seasons or The Four Seasons is a set of four paintings produced in 1563, 1572 and 1573 by Giuseppe Arcimboldo. Arcimboldo offered the set to Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor, in 1569, to accompany another set of anthropomorphic paintings called The Four Elements. Each of the four canvases features a profile portrait made up of fruit, vegetables and plants relating to the relevant season. The set was accompanied by a poem by Giovanni Battista Fonteo (1546 – 1580) explaining the paintings’ allegorical meaning.
Of the prime originals by Arcimboldo, Summer and Winter are in the collection of Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. The whereabouts of Autumn and Spring are presently unknown. The Louvre has a complete set of four copies by Arcimboldo, commissioned by Maximilian II as a gift for Augustus of Saxony. The duplicate versions feature floral frames that have been added to the original compositions.
This version of Winter is inspired by, although not a direct copy of, Arcimboldo’s original conception.