Attributed to the Rome Master Francesco Zucchi (Florence 1562 – 1622 Rome). It is extremely rare to still find today a complete set, not separated over time.
The present four paintings have to our knowledge never before been published.
In these paintings, reason and fantasy, science and poetry, reality and imaginative replica come face to face on the great stage of the Seventeenth Century. Following teachings of Arcimboldo (Milan 1530-1579) this genre of creating imaginative portrait heads made entirely of objects such as fruits, vegetables and flowers found much success in Rome following the renaissance fascination with riddles, puzzles and the bizarre (see for example the Grotesque heads of Leonardo da Vinci).
In Spring, the human portrait is composed of various spring flowers and fruits. From the top of the head, every part of the portrait, even the nose, is composed of the flowers while the body includes various fruits.
On the other hand, in Winter, the human is composed of various winter cabbages, onions, garlic and parsnips for hands and fingers while in Summer, the figure is composed with figs, pears, plums and melons.
In Autumn the artist is cleverly experimenting with the unequivocal and definitively baroque tension of Autumn’s raised arm.
From his biography written by Baglioni we learn that, outside his mosaic paintings, Zucchi portrayed the heads of his figures coloured with flowers and fruits in another set presently in the Pinacotheca, Tosio in Brescia. Baglioni did not know that Zucchi had discovered this way of painting from the Milanese artist Arcimboldo to whom he would have been introduced through Caravaggio recently returned from Milan. Four closely related comparable works by Francesco Zucchi are in a Private Collection, see ‘La Natura Morta Italiana’ L. Salerno, 1984, p.55 (reproduced).
Image rights: Courtesy of Koetser Gallery, Zürich
Boys "Toys & Girls" Pearls, Galerie Bob van Orsouw & Partner, Zürich, 27 May-15 September 2016.
Collection Marquis of Salamanca.