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The Librarian

Giuseppe Arcimboldo1562

Skokloster Castle

Skokloster Castle

The Librarian belongs to the early works executed soon after his arrival at the Habsburg court in Prague. The painting is part of a series of portraits made by Arcimboldo as a divertissment during the early 1560s depicting members of the Emperors entourage. Part of this series is also The Lawyer and The Chef, now in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, two paintings that correspond to The Librarian in terms of composition and style. The person on which The Librarian is based is most likely Wolfgang Lazius (1514-1565), a scientist and collector employed by Ferdinand I as his official historian and director of the Kunstkammer and the imperial library.

Ulteriori informazioni


  • Titolo: The Librarian
  • Data di creazione: 1562
  • artist: Guiseppe Arcimboldo, copy?, after?
  • Tags: Italian school, Mannierism, Prague
  • Provenance: Prague 1621; Königsmarck 1648; Bogesund Castle (?) 1680, 1728; Skokloster Castle 1756.
  • Dimensioni reali: w710 x h970 mm (Without frame)
  • Artist info: Little is known of the early life of Arcimboldo, there is no record of under whom he studied, nor does it seem to be any surviving easel painting dating from this time. What we do know is that Arcimboldo, like many Italian artists, carried out multiple tasks at various places, like designing stained glass windows, frescos and tapestries at Milan, Como and Monza. However, all of this changed when he went to the Habsburg court in 1562, first in Vienna and later in Prague, where he served as court painter to three Emperors, Ferdinand I, Maximilian II and Rudolf II. Although now in a European spotlight he still devoted himself to different tasks like portraits, designed festivals, drawings for silk manufactors and made aquisitions for the imperial collections. Arcimboldo did not start to paint his signature heads and figures until he came to the Habsburg court, and it has therefore been argued that the motifs derived from the ideas of life that florished at court during this period of time. However, it seems more likely that they where a combination of those ideas and the cultural climate at Lombardy at the time time, of which Arcimboldo derived from.
  • Additional info: The painting was taken from Prague by the Swedish army as war booty in 1648.
  • Tipo: Oil on canvas
  • Link esterno:

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