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

Spring

1563
Oil on oak wood, 66 x 50 cm
Museo de la Real Academia de San Fernando, Madrid

This painting in Madrid could have been originally part of the Viennese series of Four Seasons. Arcimboldo painted it in 1563 for Archduke Maximilian (later Emperor Maximilian II). The picture arrived in Spain possibly as a gift to King Philip II.

Of all the season-heads, Spring offers less surprises than the other three season allegories. The form of the head is simply filled out with flowers, the breast with leaves. At the same time, however, Spring surpasses all of Arcimboldo's composite heads in its richness of species. 80 different varieties of flowering plants can be counted. Only Water with 62 species comes close to Spring.