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The Four Seasons (Arcimboldo)

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The Seasons or The Four Seasons is a set of four paintings produced in 1563, 1572 and 1573 by Giuseppe Arcimboldo. He offered the set to Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor in 1569, accompanying The Four Elements. Each shows a profile portrait made up of fruit, vegetables and plants relating to the relevant season. The set was accompanied by a poem by Giovanni Battista Fonteo (1546-1580) explaining their allegorical meaning.

Only Winter and Summer survive from the original work - these are now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. The Louvre has a full set of the copies made by the painter for Maximilian to send to Augustus of Saxony - these have a floral frame not used in the original version. Spring also survives from a set copied for Philip II of Spain - it is now in the Real Academia de San Fernando in Madrid.

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