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One of the most bizarre and distinctive painters in the whole of art history, Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593) owes his reputation to the series of composite portraits of heads made up of a variety of objects, both natural and man-made. Most of these paintings were created at the court of Rudolf II, who hired Arcimboldo as his court painter, placing him at the centre of Rudolf's eccentric menagerie of artists, scientists and charlatans. In 1591 he produced his masterpiece, Vertumnus, an allegorical portrait of his master.

Rudolf II as the Roman god of metamorphoses in nature and life, with Rudolf's face made up of fruit and flowers, symbolising the perfect balance between nature and harmony that his reign allegedly represented. Arcimboldo died in 1593.

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Giuseppe Arcimboldo

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