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


Oil on panel, 70 x 49 cm
Private collection

The composition of the head out of various creatures, its profile view, approximate dimensions, and support all correspond to the series of Seasons and Elements. Earth is the most complex of either series. Like the other paintings in both series, it can be identified as an imperial allegory: this suggests that the emperor rules over the elements and the seasons.

Many studies of animals by Arcimboldo exist, and many of these studies were used as sources for the creatures seen in Earth. All the animals in the head were taken from life, because the emperor gave Arcimboldo permission to draw creatures in his menageries.

This version of the Earth was made for Maximilian II, or possibly Rudolf II. However, while there is no doubt about its authenticity, discrepancies with Water and Fire of 1566 do exist as far its dimensions, and more fluid handling are concerned, so it is possible that it might not have belonged to the original series of Elements.