Vertumnus – God of the Seasons

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Exhibition 6 June–28 September 2014
The well-known painting Vertumnus by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, painted in 1590, was the centrepoint of Skokloster Castle’s big summer exhibition in 2014. In the exhibition, the painting was displayed together with a description of its remarkable history. Vertumnus is the god of the seasons and the changing seasons are represented in the form of modern art in Arcimboldo’s spirit. A recording of a poem by Gregorio Comanini was played throughout the exhibition.

Spectacular Sculptures of the Seasons

The painting and its history were displayed together with modern art inspired by Arcimboldo’s work. The American artist Philip Haas contributed his sculpture group “The Four Seasons” in a smaller format – new interpretations of Arcimboldo’s paintings of the four seasons.

Floral Decorations and Fruit Installations

Plant growth changes during the year. This is portrayed in various ways in the exhibition. During chosen periods in the summer, Gunnar Kaj displayed his floral decorations at Skokloster Castle. Emma Karp Lundström, known for her gigantic apple pictures in Kivik, also made installations during the summer.

Photo: Jens Mohr, Skokloster Castle/SHM (CC BY).
 Large image depicting a male figure made of potatoes and apples in different colors
An apple image by Emma Karp Lundström. Photo: Lotta Lindley, Skokloster Castle/SHM (CC BY)

From Prague to Skokloster Castle

Vertumnus, a transformation portrait of the German Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II of Hapsburg (1552-1612), is one of the world’s best known paintings. The artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593), came from Milan to the court of Vienna and then to Prague, where an intellectual centre for art, crafts and science in Europe was created. The painting came to Sweden and to Skokloster Castle together with a considerable art collection. The exhibition was displayed in the castle courtyard and in three exhibition rooms on the ground floor. Described here is the time when the painting was created, the court in Prague and Vertumnus’ path to Skokloster Castle.

Vertumnus in Different Guises

Vertumnus is the god of the seasons and change in Roman mythology. Vertumnus could change himself into different guises. We can read about this in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, one of the best known works of poetry from antiquity. Ovid was very popular in Arcimboldo’s time and it was not unusual for artists to choose motifs from his Metamorphoses. The portrait portrays the German Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II.

Jens Mohr, Skokloster Castle/SHM (CC BY).

We would like to thank the Friends of Skokloster Castle, Håbo Marknads AB/Håbo municipality - Centre in Mälardalen for residents and companies, Håbo Buses, Econova Weibulls and Dramatens Kostymförråd who have contributed to the exhibition.

Header photo: Jens Mohr, Skokloster Castle/SHM (CC BY)

A Frozen Tale

In connection with the exhibition the Australian photo artist Alexia Sinclair showed "A Frozen Tale", nine magica images inspired by and shot at Skokloster.