Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Arcimboldo, Giuseppe

(1527-1593) Milanese painter who became Court Painter at Prague (1562-1587) for two Holy Roman Emperors, Maximilian II and his son Rudolph II; it was at Prague that GA composed his series of Foliate Heads composed of whole or fragmented vegetables, flowers, Birds and animals (heraldic or otherwise) and portions of Landscape. These series were generally made up of four portraits, and several of them depict the four Seasons; the allegorical intent (see Allegory) of these paintings is very clear, and their Trompe-L'oeil effects may have been secondary to GA and to his patrons. To a late-20th-century viewer, GA's portraits seem to hover on the cusp of Metamorphosis, and presage the dream-effects of Surrealism, some of whose advocates claimed GA as an honoured ancestor. The conflation of world and countenance in GA can be understood as analogous to the intimate linkage between Secondary World and protagonist in full-fantasy narratives. [JC]

see also: Face of Glory.

further reading: Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1993) by Werner Kriegeskorte.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.