Guiseppe Arcimboldo (1526-1593) was an Italian Mannerist painter whose odd (some would say grotesque) compositions of fruits, vegetables, animals, books, and other objects were arranged to resemble human portraits. In the 20th century these double images were greatly admired by Salvador Dali and other of the Surrealist painters.
The following description of “Summer” has been excerpted from the Web Gallery of Art….
“The painting featured here is part of a cycle dedicated to the Four Seasons. [The artist created several other versions of the series, held in other museum collections.] Summer is the only dated picture of the series (1563). For the first time, Arcimboldo composes heads from all kinds of objects, whose selection gives meaning to the allegory. This compositional method was certainly not invented by Arcimboldo, but the sophistication and imagination with which the painter applies the themes in the picture-puzzles are a very personal achievement.
In the profile bust of Summer the cheek and neck area are composed of a large peach, quince, garlic, white young onions, yellow beets and white eggplant; the mouth and lips are formed of cherries and the open pea pod within imitates a row of teeth. The nose is a young wild cucumber and the chin is a pear; the eye shines as a glassy sour cherry between two small pears. The bulge of the forehead seems to be made of brown-skinned onions; even the eyebrows - a curved grain-ear - are not overlooked. On the temple are three hazelnuts in their covers, and in the place of the ear is a dried corncob.
The ensemble is completed with a head covering, effectively a cap or a hat made of fruit and vegetables bedded in greenery, from which emerge oat spikes resembling a hat feather. The clothing in woven straw has a single artichoke and the woven signature and date are integrated into the composition as jewelry.”