Giuseppe Arcimboldo: Portrait of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II of Habsburg as Vertumnus (1590-1591)

(Skokloster, Håbo Municipality, Sweden)

Giuseppe Arcimboldo is one of the most creative painters. Although he made conventional works, he most remembered today for his highly original and imaginative portrait heads made entirely of objects such as fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, and books. This famous painting is a portrait of Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor. Arcimboldo became court painter of the Habsburg court and during that period he made this painting. Emperor Rudolf is depicted as Vertumnus, the Roman god of seasons, change, plant growth, gardens and fruit trees. The painting symbolizes the abundance of the 'Golden Age' under Rudolf's rule - although this is debatable. Emperor Rudolf II was ineffectual ruler but was a important patron of art and science. This painting is from 1590-1591.