Monday, March 26, 2012

A Portrait of Giuseppe Arcimboldo

From the mind of a master, comes the fruits of his labours. And the books, flowers, roots and whatever other appropriate objects that captured the essence of the portraits painted by Giuseppe Arcimboldo. This imaginative painter was born in Milan in 1527 and was highly popular in his day. While falling out of favour during later art periods, Budding Artists revives this Italian Painter today in our newest look at a Master Artist for our weekend Art Workshops for Children at the London Farmer's Market in the Western Fair District. If you haven't brought your children by for one of the fun and educational workshops at either 10am or 1pm, perhaps 90 minutes of fruit-filled art history and creation,  inspired by Arcimboldo, will be just the thing!

While the name Arcimboldo might not immediately ring a bell, his artwork surely does. This gifted painter lived during the High Renaissance period and was admired by his peers and royalty alike. He was the son of Biagio Arcimboldo, who was also an artist in his own right. Like his father before him, he began his career in stained glass, but it was Arcimbolodo's portraits that caught the eye of the courts that would support him for most of his life.

After studying under Leonardo Da Vinci, in 1562 Arcimboldo was called to the Royal Courts by Emperor Ferdinand I. His position as court portraitist became questionable when Ferdinand  died shortly thereafter, but the following emperor, Maximilian II, admired his caricatures as well and kept him on. He became an important royal architect, engineer, and stage designer for the many gala events that he oversaw, in which he designed costumes, props and other decor items like hydralic machines. His skill was so appreciated that when Rudolf II took over from his father Maximilian in 1576, he was again kept on in this position.

And what was it that kept Arcimboldo in the employ of the Royal Courts of Vienna, and then Prague, for over 25 years? Undoubtedly, it was his unique and spirited style of portraiture. Arcimboldo created bold oil paintings of court figures and other personages, that when viewed up close could be recognized as depictions of fruits, vegetables, animals, and a variety of other items. The theme of the painting dictated the objects that it was created from. For example, his series on the Four Elements drew images appropriate for each one; ie. "Air" is made up of a variety of birds that form a face. Likewise, his series on the Four Seasons used images that could be found during that season; ie. "Winter" contains tree roots and bare branches. He also utilized the art of optical illusions, like in the portrait of a bowl of vegetables, that when turned upside down, can be recognized as the picture of a man.

With a long and illustrious royal career behind him, in 1587 Arcimboldo was finally allowed to return to his native Milan. Despite no longer being officially employed by emperor Rudolf II, in 1591 he painted perhaps his most famous portrait "Vertumnus" and dedicated it to him. The portrait was appreciated as much then, as it is now and was to be his last known painting. On July 11th, 1593, Arcimboldo died at home in Milan. While many of his paintings were lost to the world after the Thirty Years' War, enough of them remained to influence the likes of Joos de Momper, Pablo Picasso, Rene Magritte and of course Salvador Dali.

This week, Budding Artists hopes that we can tempt you to be influenced by the artwork of Giuseppe Arcimboldo too! Contact us today to register your child for our Children's Art Workshop on March 31st!

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