Portraits for the Holy Roman Emperor
by Giuseppe ARCIMBOLDO

From 1565, Arcimboldo was a long-tenured portraitist of Emperor Maximilian II, first in Vienna and later in Prague. In 1576, he was named "portraitist and painter" of the new emperor, Rudolf II. In 1587 he returned to his native city Milan.

Around the middle of the sixteenth century, court portraiture throughout Europe had a homogeneous form, wherein the full-figure portrait dominated as the most representative form. Accordingly, smaller-format portraits, half-figures and busts have more private character, in which case the demand for likeness predominates over the representative function.

Among the enormous quantity of anonymous portraits that were created at the Habsburg court and which have been preserved till today, a group of paintings can be attributed to Arcimboldo. The most important painting in this group is the family portrait of Emperor Maximilian II. A closely related series, depicting young girls, possibly the daughters of Ferdinand I, belongs to this group, too.

Preview Picture Data Info
Maximilian II, His Wife and Three Children
1563
Oil on canvas, 240 x 188 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna


Maximilian II, His Wife and Three Children (detail)
1563
Oil on canvas
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna


Bust of a Daughter of Ferdinand I
c. 1563
Oil on wood, 44 x 34 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna


Bust of a Daughter of Ferdinand I
c. 1563
Oil on wood, 44 x 34 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna


Bust of a Daughter of Ferdinand I
c. 1563
Oil on wood, 44 x 34 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna


Bust of a Daughter of Ferdinand I
1563-65
Oil on wood, 33 x 25 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna


Archduchess Johanna
1562-65
Oil on linden wood, 34 x 26 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna


Archduchess Anna, Daughter of Emperor Maximilian II
c. 1563
Oil on wood, 42 x 34 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna



Summary of works by Arcimboldo
Paintings
Early works in Milan
Portraits for the Holy Roman Emperor
Allegories of the Seasons and the Elements
Composite and reversible heads
Graphics
Nature studies
Costumes and drawings for court festivities
Treatise on silk culture and manufacture
Various drawings



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