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Italia • 1527−1593
Giuseppe Arcimboldo (Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1526 or 1527, Milan, Italy - July 11, 1593, Milan, Italy) - Italian artist and decorator, is considered one of the most prominent representatives of Mannerism. He spent his childhood and youth in Milan, then in 1562 he was invited to the court of the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Archimboldo served the Hapsburg for 26 years, first in Vienna and then in Prague. Then he returned to Milan, while continuing to carry out the orders of Emperor Rudolph II until his death.

Features of the artist Giuseppe Archimboldo: He became famous for his “metamorphose” portraits in which people's faces are made up of fruits, vegetables and flowers. However, in some of his works, similar "mosaics" were composed of other objects. For example, the picture "Librarian"Consists of books,"Waiter"- from barrels and bottles, and"Lawyer"- from books, chicken carcass and fish.

Famous paintings by Giuseppe Archimboldo: series "Four seasons", A series of"Four elements","Portrait of Emperor Rudolph II as Vertumn".

One of the main values in life for Giuseppe Arcimboldo was nature. And he embodied his love for its diversity and diversity in phantasmagoric portraits. According to legend, during his life in Prague, the artist came to the market early in the morning and bought fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables to get as much material as possible for his works.

Almost immediately after the death of Arcimboldo, he was forgotten for several centuries. A new surge in the popularity of the artist came in the twentieth century. Giuseppe was “brought back to life” by the surrealists, who began to use his intricate compositions as one of the main sources of inspiration. Salvador Dali called Archimboldo the forerunner of surrealism. And his painting “The Librarian” is considered the triumph of abstract art of the XVI century.

Master of Celebrations

The exact date of birth of Giuseppe Archimboldo is unknown. He was born, according to various sources, in 1526 or 1527 in Milan, one of the largest Italian centers of commerce, science and art. On the childhood of the future painter, too, almost no information. However, it is known that from an early age Giuseppe began to help in the work of his father - the artist Biagio Archimboldo, who among others was engaged in the decoration of the Milan Cathedral. In the cathedral workshops Giuseppe not only studied painting, but also learned the basics of crafts. Together with his father, he prepared cardboard for stained glass windows and, thanks to his talent and fantasy, began to gain popularity.

In 1551, King Ferdinand, who was passing through Milan, ordered Archimboldo five armorial shields. Very soon, Ferdinand will become the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. A great connoisseur of art, he once recalled a talented painter from Milan and invited Giuseppe to the court. The artist served as a court portrait painter with Ferdinand I for only two years. But when Maximilian II ascended the throne in 1564, the position of Archimboldo at the court only strengthened. His paintings were very popular and highly valued by the ruler, in addition, the artist was the main adviser to the emperor in painting and replenished his collection of objects of art. Even then, Archimboldo wrote his "metamorphose" portraits, creating the first series of "Seasons".

But Giuseppe’s duties were not limited to painting alone. He gained even greater fame at the court thanks to his irrepressible fantasy in organizing imperial festivals, carnivals and tournaments. Archimboldo, who received the title of "Masters of Celebrations", creates luxurious decorations, costumes and fantasy masks for all these events.

In addition, sometimes the artist was compared with Leonardo da Vinci, since he, too, had considerable interest in various techniques. Later, Archimboldo will create a musical instrument called “digital harpsichord”, the melodies for which were recorded on paper using color spots.

Weird Collector

Rudolph II, who became emperor at the age of 24, was an ardent connoisseur of various wonders. In his huge collection were collected not only luxurious objects of art, but also "curiosities" brought from different parts of the world, and exotic animals. According to various testimonies, the treasury of Emperor Rudolph II included the roots of mandrake, bezoar stone, huge shells, nails from Noah's ark, alcoholized homunculus, rare minerals and a cup made from the horn of a unicorn. Phantasmagoric portraits of Giuseppe Archimboldo fit into this outlandish collection very organically. Moreover, one of the duties of the court painter was to preserve the collection and search for new rare specimens for her.

The emperor's love for everything mystical and mysterious was not limited to just collecting things. We can say that Rudolf II also collected unusual people. During his reign in Prague, assorted sorcerers and alchemists, astrologers, soothsayers, and Kabbalists gathered from all over the world. With age, the emperor became increasingly unsociable (it was said that he suffered from a hereditary mental illness) and increasingly spent his time either alone or in the company of all these wise men, who today would be called a gathering of charlatans. All of them - and among them, Archimboldo - lived on the same street, which local residents tried to bypass the tenth road.

According to one of the legends, this dubious neighborhood eventually left the artist sideways. After the young girl drowned herself in a river, the townspeople remembered that shortly before that Archimboldo painted her portrait. Rumors spread around the city that his strange paintings were a product of the devil, and the people depicted on them were dying. Local residents began to shun the artist and baptized, seeing him on the street.

In 1587, Archimboldo appealed to the emperor to return to his homeland, citing old age and fatigue. According to one version, the artist simply wanted to run away from Rudolph II, whose character over the years has become increasingly difficult and unpredictable. The emperor did not want to lose his beloved painter, but in the end, Archimboldo managed to bargain with him, promising that he would still paint portraits for the monarch and "fulfill some of his whims."

Titled Heretic

Giuseppe Archimboldo served the Habsburg for 26 years. He returned to Milan with big money: for the faithful service the emperor granted him 1,500 florins (this amount was equal to several annual salaries of the artist). Archimboldo continued to write portraits for the monarch and receive a salary. In the last years of his life, he created some of his most famous works - "Flora"And" Portrait of Emperor Rudolph II in the guise of Vertumn ".

Despite such an unusual image, the emperor was very pleased with this portrait. Vertumnus was famous in ancient Italy for the god of the seasons, earthly fruits and natural abundance. In a sense, this picture has become unifying for all the previous works of the artist. By depicting the monarch in the image of the god of fertility, Archimboldo supposedly made him the ruler of all his "natural" paintings. This portrait was painted shortly before the artist's death; it became his last work that has survived to this day. Having received the portrait, Rudolph II awarded Archimboldo with the honorary title of the Count Palatine. In addition to him in the Holy Roman Empire of the XVI century, this honor was awarded only to Sodom and Titian.

In Milan itself, the work of Archimboldo was not popular. According to some reports, the artist had a conflict with the local abbot Ignacy Pozzi because of the diptych "Adam"And"Eve". The churchman declared the portraits, composed of the bodies of babies, heresy. And when Archimboldo announced that he was going to write a “metamorphose” portrait of Christ, which consists of everything on earth, the abbot threatened to excommunicate him from the church.

Anyway, the artist never managed to write an ambitious “blasphemous” portrait of Christ. Soon he began to have severe pain, and doctors diagnosed urolithiasis. From her Archimboldo and died July 11, 1593.

Author: Evgenia Sidelnikova

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