Autumn; A Mid 20thC Oil on Board After Arcimboldo by Robert Caspers

Origin: English
Period: Mid 20thC
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1950-60
Width: 17”
Height: 20.75”

The mid-century oil on board after Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s Autumn (1527 – 1593), depicting the head of a man emerging from a wooden barrel, the neck is made of gourds, the nose is a pear, grapes and grain make the hair, the skull is made of a white pumpkin and the ear a mushroom,; with the whole housed in its original ebonised and gilt frame and painted by Robert Caspers (1920-1989), signed lower right, in the third quarter of the twentieth century.

In entirely original condition the work does not have any restorations to note; there are two scratch marks as per the photographs; it could possibly be cleaned if so desired. There are some small losses to the original frame as photographed. Robert Caspers (1920-1989) was best known for still life paintings.

With a berry for an eye, a pear for a nose, and grapes and leaves for a crown of hair, Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s faces have maintained a captivating and quizzical presence in art history for nearly 500 years.  

Though only 26 of his works survive, Arcimboldo’s composite faces made of fruits, vegetables, flowers, or even books have left an outsize impression on art history. (In actuality, his artistic output was comprised largely of more traditional imagery.) Born in Milan in 1527, the son of a painter, Arcimboldo began his career painting religious subjects, frescoes, and making stained-glass windows. In 1562, he was appointed court portraitist to Ferdinand I at the Habsburg court. Arcimboldo would paint for the Habsburgs until 1588, first in Vienna for Ferdinand I, and then later for Maximilian II and his son Rudolf II in Prague.

The Habsburgs were known to have a flair for art and culture that extended beyond convention into the worlds of sciences and curiosities, too. At their court, Arcimboldo also acted as the costume designer and made tapestries and stained-glass windows. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that it was there in the curious court of the Holy Roman Emperor that Acrimbolodo’s vegetal visions flourished.

Arcimboldo’s first allegorical images are perhaps his most famous—the Four Seasons, a series made for Maximillian II in 1563. These “portraits,”  Spring, Summer, Autumn (as we see here), and Winter, were each made up of seasonally appropriate fruits, vegetables, and flora. Spring and Summer appear as youthful women, Autumn and Winter have the visages of grizzled old men.
With the season of harvest upon us, we decided to take a closer look at Arcimboldo’s Autumn and turned up three facts that might just change the way you see it.

A great way to own what is a masterstroke of a painting at an affordable price.