Earth, Giuseppe Arcimboldo

Earth, Giuseppe Arcimboldo

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Earth, Giuseppe Arcimboldo

aus der Kollektion Alte Meister

Earth, Giuseppe Arcimboldo aus der Kollektion Alte Meister

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Bildcode: 478638
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In addition to the 'Four Seasons', Arcimboldo created for Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor, a series of paintings personifying the Four Elements — Earth, Air, Fire, and Water — which were believed in antiquity to compose all matter. The series is among Arcimboldo’s most extraordinary creations. '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.

Earth consists of a myriad of intertwined mammals, for which many of the preparatory drawings have survived, including those for the wild boar, elk, red deer, fallow deer, and black buck.

In the painting, Arcimboldo’s animals assume complex positions in order to form, for example, the eye or the neck. Several details make unambiguous reference to the House of Habsburg, such as the crown-forming antlers, the lion skin of Hercules, and the ram skin symbolizing the Order of the Golden Fleece.