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.