Arcimboldo's Water


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Arcimboldo's Water

The picture is of a head made up of many different sea features with a
plain black background. It would be nearly impossible to name all the
aquatic animals that make up this head. It seams as though there is a
chest plate at the top of the body which is made of a crab and there
are also shoulder plates which are made up by using a turtle and a
large mussel, an octopus has also attached itself to the shoulder
plates. Hanging around the neck there is a necklace made of pearls.
The cheek is a ray of some sort, the ear is a mussel with a pearl as
an earring. There is some sort of crab in place as the eyebrows and
the mouth seams to be a dogfish with its jaws open revealing all its
teeth. The figure seams to be wearing a crown which is made up of
whales, seals, sea horses and coral. The nose is also made up by a
fish. There is an array of different colours used but only the coral
and a lobster seam to be bright and really stand out.

Arcimboldo has arranged this piece so that when you look at the
picture you are not struck by individual features but the picture as a
whole and I found that happened with me. Arcimboldo has used oil on
limestone to create this picture and it seams as though he has built
the picture up from the background and added layers as he painted. The
ideas used are obviously derived from the sea and sea creatures and
are created together in a harmonious way and it shows a sign of peace
with so many different creatures layed together in harmony.

I think it was made to show that people can live together peacefully
just as the animals are in the picture. It shows that fighting and
arguing can be discarded and that everyone can get along no matter
what or who they are: within the picture many of the animals would be
each others enemy and prey.

I like this picture because Arcimboldo has incorporated so many
different species into the image but it is still very clearly a face
and shoulders. Also the message of peace is clearly illustrated and is

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constantly highlighted within the piece.

Arcomboldo during his time was very famous during his lifetime but
when he died he was soon forgotten. He was more or less completely
forgotten until the 17th and 18th centuries and it was not until 1885
that a treatise by Dr. Carlo Casati appeared called Giuseppe
Arcimboldo, pittore Milanese, in which he is mainly seen as a painter
of portraits. His friends thought of him as a man of the "Sharpest
intelligence" and someone who was "Extremely well read" and I think
this really is illustrated within his paintings and drawings.


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