PARIS, FRANCE.- The greatest exhibition dedicated to Arcimboldo (1526-1593) in twenty years opens today at the Luxembourg Museum in Paris. Arcimboldo is an icon of the surreal artists for his portraits made of vegetables, fruit, or animals. During his life-time he was praised and made a nobleman by the Habsburgs, but after his death he was forgotten for four centuries and rediscovered by the surreal artists. The exhibition will be on view through January 13, 2008.
Sylvia Ferino, curator of the exhibition and Italian art curator of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna said, We wanted to go to the roots of his work and restore the period to Arcimboldo, out of the condition of icon of the fantastic.
Arcimboldo was born in Milan, the son of a painter who was working at the Duomo. He is known as author of the cartoons for the Stories of St. Catherine of Alexandria for the stained glasses of the Duomo. In 1556 he worked with Giuseppe Meda for frescoes in the Cathedral of Monza.
In 1562 he became the court portraitist to Maximilian II at the Habsburg court in Vienna, and later, to his son Rudolf II at the court in Prague, both of whom seem to have much liked Arcimboldo's portraits.
He was also the court decorator, costume designer, and general art expert. His style of early pre-surrealist portraiture was much copied by his contemporaries, making it difficult at times to differentiate his work from that of imitators. Ironically, given the fame of the imaginary portraits, Arcimboldo's conventional work has been all but forgotten. He died in Milan.
When the Swedish army raided Prague in 1648, during the Thirty Years' War, many of his works were stolen from Rudolf II's collections, by orders of Queen Christina of Sweden.
His works can be found in Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Habsburg Schloss Ambras in Innsbruck, the Louvre in Paris, as well as numerous museums in Sweden. In Italy, his work is in Cremona, Brescia, and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, the Denver Art Museum in Denver, Colorado and the Candie Museum on Guernsey, also exhibit pieces of his work.