Rudolf II of Habsburg as Vertumnus

Giuseppe Arcimboldo1590

Skokloster Castle

Skokloster Castle
Skoklosters, Sweden

Emperor Rudolf II as Vertumnus, the Roman god of the seasons, growth, plants and fruit. The portrait is meant as an imperial allegory, corresponding with Arcimboldos series of the seasons, with the Emperor here seen as ruler of them all. The variety of flowers and fruits from all season signify that a golden era has returned under the Emperors rule.

After the death of Emperor Rudolf II in 1612 the painting stayed at Prague where it is recorded in the inventory of the imperial collections in 1621 and 1635. It was later taken as war booty by the Swedish army in 1648.


  • Title: Rudolf II of Habsburg as Vertumnus
  • Creator: Giuseppe Arcimboldo
  • Creator Lifespan: 1526 - 1593
  • Creator Nationality: Italian
  • Creator Gender: male
  • Creator Death Place: Milan
  • Creator Birth Place: Milan
  • Date Created: 1590
  • Location Created: Prague, Czech Republic
  • artist: Giuseppe Arcimboldo
  • Tags: Italian school, Mannierism
  • Provenance: Prague 1621, Königsmarck 1648, Bogesund Castle 1680, Skokloster Castle 1845
  • Physical Dimensions: w 560, h 680 mm (without frame)
  • Artist info: Little is known of the early life of Arcimboldo, there is no record of under whom he studied, nor does it seem to be any surviving easel painting dating from this time. What we do know is that Arcimboldo, like many Italian artists, carried out multiple tasks at various places, like designing stained glass windows, frescos and tapestries at Milan, Como and Monza. However, all of this changed when he went to the Habsburg court in 1562, first in Vienna and later in Prague, where he served as court painter to three Emperors, Ferdinand I, Maximilian II and Rudolf II. Although now in a European spotlight he still devoted himself to different tasks like portraits, designed festivals, drawings for silk manufactors and made aquisitions for the imperial collections. Arcimboldo did not start to paint his signature heads and figures until he came to the Habsburg court, and it has therefore been argued that the motifs derived from the ideas of life that florished at court during this period of time. However, it seems more likely that they where a combination of those ideas and the cultural climate at Lombardy at the time, of which Arcimboldo derived from.
  • Type: Oil on panel
  • External Link: http://emuseumplus.lsh.se/eMuseumPlus?service=ExternalInterface&module=collection&objectId=32631&viewType=detailView

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