ARCIMBOLDO, Giuseppe
(b. 1526, Milano, d. 1593, Milano)

Nature studies

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Watercolour on parchment
Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna

There is a codex in the manuscript collection of the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna, which contains original studies of animals drawn from nature. Some of these drawings can be related to Arcimboldo's painting Earth, and it was suggested that Arcimboldo was the author of a group of drawings to be found in this codex (Codex min. 42).

The contents of the codex are representations of animals and plants. The glued-on studies originated from between 1550 and 1612. The pictures from fol. 115 onwards are glued-in landscape format and are mainly painted with watercolours or opaque colours on paper or on parchment (36 studies). In some cases the backing paper has been cut away, partially to make the rear side of the of the glued-in study visible, partially to reduce the thickness of the volume. Only a few pictures are signed; however, many are dated.

Cod. min. 42 fol. 6r depicts a boar and a head study of a boar. This head was stored in the Kunstkammer of Emperor Rudolf I.