Giuseppe Arcimboldo
(Milan 1525 – 1593)




oil on canvas
75.5 x 56.9 cm. (30.9 x 22.4 in.)


The Klesch Collection holds a complete set of Four Seasons by Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

“Arcimboldo may rightly be regarded as a virtuoso entertainer and an artificer of fantasy, but he was surely also something more. He was a learned painter with literary aspirations who was also a scrupulous imitator of nature.” 

Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, Arcimboldo: Visual Jokes, Natural History, and Still-Life Painting, Chicago & London, 2009, p. 217.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo was born in Milan in 1527. Even though this most original 16th-century Mannerist painter is best known for his unique paintings of composite figures, he started his career designing cartoons for stained-glass windows of the Cathedral in Milan. He was court painter to three generations of Holy Roman Emperors, first to Ferdinand I (1503-1564) whom he joined in Vienna in 1562, and later to Maximilian II (1527-1576) and his son Rudolf II (1552-1612) at the court in Prague.1



It was for Maximilian II that Arcimboldo created the first set of The Four Seasons in 1563. Arcimboldo painted several of these series that are known to have been in various royal collections, each with individual variation. This painting, depicting Autumn, is part of a set of The Four Seasons, painted in 1572, and according to Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, it is currently the only full set in private hands.2 These bizarre works were greatly admired by Arcimboldo’s contemporaries and given the Renaissance fascination with riddles and puzzles, he brilliantly catered to the taste of his time.3 Testament to their enduring fascination, his works were rediscovered by 20th-century Surrealist artists such as Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) and remain a source of great interest today. Arcimboldo returned to his home town of Milan after his service in Prague, where he died in 1593.


1. Kathleen Kuiper, “Giuseppe Arcimboldo”, last modified 2006, accessed June 22, 2020,
2. Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, in private correspondence, 2010.
3. Luigi Salerno, La Natura Morta Italiana 1580-1805 (Rome: Ugo Bozzi Editore, 1984), n.p.
4. Giuseppe Arcimboldo, The Complete Works, “Biography,” accessed June 22, 2020,


Estate of Dr. Axel Wenner-Gren (1881-1961), Sweden;
his sale; Sotheby’s, London, 24 March 1965, lots 34 (Winter and Spring) and 35 (Summer and Autumn) to Antiqua Anstalt;
with H. Terry-Engell Gallery, London, 1965/66.
Private collection, Berlin;
The Klesch Collection.

London, Gallery Terry-Engell, 1965-6, “Fifteen Important Old Master Paintings”, nos. 6-9, ill.
Bergamo, Galleria Lorenzelli, “Natura in Posa”, September – October 1968, nos. 3-6, ill.
Venice, Palazzi Grassi, “Effetto Arcimboldo”, 15 February – 31 May 1987 (only Winter shown).
London, Somerset, Hauser & Wirth, “The Land we Live in – the Land we Left Behind”, 20 January – 7 May 2018.
London, Christie’s, “Art Adorned”, 22 November – 3 December 2019.

S. Alfons, “Giuseppe Arcimboldo”, Tidskrift för konstvetenskap, årg. 31, Malmö, 1957, p. 41, reproduced in black and white pp. 37-40.
T. Crombie, “The Season’s Start: Arcimboldo to Alken,” Apollo, LXXXII, 1965, n. 44, pp. 335/337.
“Notable works of art now on the market: supplement”, Burlington Magazine, vol. 107, no. 783, Dec. 1965, p. 28 and ill. in colour.
Edward Lucie-Smith, “Arcimboldo. H. Terry-Engell Gallery,” Art Review, XVII, 1965, no. 22, p. 4.
“Arcimboldo’s Seasons,” The Times, London, 16/10/1965, p. 4.
H. Terry-Engell, Fifteen Important Old Master Paintings, exh. cat., London, 1965-6.
Vingt ans d’acquisitions au Musée du Louvre 1946-1967, exh. cat., Paris, Musée du Louvre, 1967-8, p. 133, n. 294.
F. Bologna, Natura in Posa, Bergamo, 1968, ill. 3-6.
A.P. de Mandiargues, Arcimboldo the Marvelous, Paris, 1977; New York, 1978, p. 126-7 (with wrong measurements 73.6 x 61 cm, and erroneously located in a private collection in London).
R. Barthes, Arcimboldo, Milan, 1978, p. 39, ill. no. 39, 41, 43 and 45.
R. Barthes, “Arcimboldo: Le Magicien des Habsbourg”, Le Figaro, 04/04/1978, no. 5, p. 22.
F. Porzio, L’universo illusorio di Arcimboldo, Milan, 1979, p. 10.
A. Veca, Paradeisos, Bergamo, Galleria Lorenzelli, 1982, p. 291.
L. Salerno, La natura morta italiana, Rome, 1984, p.6-7, ill. no. 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and 1.4.
A. Veca, “La parabola delle merce,” Commercio in Lombardia, Milano, 1986, p. 200.
Effetto Arcimboldo, exh. cat., Venice, Palazzo Grassi, 1987, p. 173.
A. Veca, Lombardia 1620 circa, Bergamo, 1989, pl. 1.
W. Kriegeskorte, Arcimboldo, Cologne, 2003, pp. 30-35, illustrated.

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