Bizarre Faces of Arcimboldo | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Palazzo Reale in Piazza del Duomo #12, in Milan, Italy will host the exhibition of “Arcimboldo” a Renaissance Mannerist artist of the 1500’s. The exhibition will be open from February 9, 2011 until May 22, 2011 and it will feature the fantastic bizarre “Composite Heads” , the whimsical portraits of the Italian artist who composed them of plants, animals, and objects.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, also spelled his name Arcimboldi and Arcimboldus, nobody knows why,  the painter used all the names to sign his works, therefore it is uncertain which version is the correct one, but I think extremely creative people want to hide behind various identities to give themself an enigmatic aura.

Arcimboldo was born in Milan in 1527 and grew up during the High Renaissance.  He was born “con la camicia” (with the shirt on, not naked) as we Italians would describe someone born under a lucky star, in fact his father was the painter commissioned to paint the Milan Cathedral. And so his life evolved between one lucky opportunity to another. Giuseppe became a student to the renowned painter Leonardo Da Vinci. In the course of 25 years he became the painter to the royals and due to his ability to design the bizarre was hired by many royal courts as “The” party planner of the sixteenth-century staging the most flashy affairs of  Europe’s courts.


Just imagine gilded fountains and rivers of champagne, flocks of colored birds, music, theater, tons of original artwork, sculptures, and much pageantry. As a precursor of his time Arcimboldo invented unique special effects for the royal events. He called one of his invention the “Harpsichord of Color” a gigantic hydro-mechanically powered musical instrument, a sort of modern organ.

His art was considered more a novelty than great paintings. As famous as he was during his artistic life, he was forgotten after his death and rediscovered around the end of the 19th century. The art critics attribute the lack of interest in his style of painting to a generational changes of taste, fashion and manners.

Particularly I adore the four season paintings series.

In the Summer portrait (above) the gentleman’s nose appears to be made of a cucumber. On the man’s coat the artist embedded his name into the collar of the jacket and the date 1573 on the shoulder at the seam of the sleeve.
Arcimboldo dedicated the series called Earth paintings to the elements of nature.

The very famous Man in the Vegetables painting is an inverted illusion. Right-side up, the painting looks like a bowl of fresh produce, invert the picture and it looks like a man’s face with lips of mushrooms.

A lover of food and food depicted in art like myself should not miss this event, but unfortunately I will. For now, I am just content to tell the story, perhaps things will open up in my busy agenda. Never say impossible.
In the meantime, I am here to help you with the selection of your art for any decor. As the professional who is always ready, I shall be prompt and ready to help you with any of your needs, whether it will be decorating, designing, or remodeling. Just leave your name in the box below, I shall answer in 24 hours time. Ciao,

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer working in the USA and Europe since 1990. She colors the world of her clients. She has been described as “the colorist” and loves to create the unusual. Her specialty is to design kitchen, wine cellar, entertainment rooms and bathrooms like spas. Author of three books available on:



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