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National Gallery of Art Plans a Wide Range of Activities to Celebrate Arcimboldo, 1526–1593: Nature and Fantasy

Includes Colossal Sculpture Inspired by Arcimboldo by Philip Haas and Documentary Film Narrated by Isabella Rossellini

Philip Haas, Winter (After Arcimboldo), 2010, pigmented and painted fiberglass Courtesy of Sonnabend Gallery Photo by Rob Shelley © 2010 National Gallery of Art, Washington

Philip Haas, Winter (After Arcimboldo), 2010,
pigmented and painted fiberglass
Courtesy of Sonnabend Gallery
Photo by Rob Shelley © 2010 National Gallery of Art, Washington

Washington, DC—A dynamic array of programs, a special installation, and a documentary film are planned in conjunction with the first exhibition in the United States of the bizarre yet scientifically accurate allegorical composite heads painted by Giuseppe Arcimboldo. Lectures, films, gallery talks, and concerts explore the allegorical paintings of Arcimboldo, his role as court painter, and the age in which he worked.

Arcimboldo, 1526-1593: Nature and Fantasy is on view at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, from September 19, 2010 through January 9, 2011. After Washington, the exhibition will be on view at the Palazzo Reale, Milan—Arcimboldo's birthplace—from February 27 through May 8, 2011.

Winter (After Arcimboldo) by Philip Haas

As visitors ascend the stairs to the Mezzanine in the East Building they will encounter Winter (After Arcimboldo) (2010), a colossal 15-foot-tall, fiberglass sculpture by American artist and filmmaker Philip Haas (b. 1954). It is inspired by Arcimboldo's painting Winter (1563), which is on loan to the exhibition from the collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Paying tribute to Arcimboldo's exuberant designs for court festivals in Renaissance Vienna and Prague, Haas has created at once a commentary on Arcimboldo's style and a work of art in its own right. A puzzle of natural forms—composed of a human head of bark, branches, twigs, moss, fungi, vines, and ivy—the object is both bizarre and expressive. Completed in time for Arcimboldo, 1526–1593: Nature and Fantasy, the sculpture will travel to the Gardens of Versailles, the Palazzo Reale in Milan, and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

In 2009, Haas' series of film installations—Butchers, Dragons, Gods & Skeletons—for the Kimbell Art Museum in Ft. Worth was inspired by masterpieces in their permanent collection. Retrospectives of his art films have been held at the Tate Britain, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Lincoln Center, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the National Gallery of Art. His feature film, Angels & Insects, set in Victorian England, was nominated for an Academy Award®. Over the last several years, Haas has had two one-man shows of of paintings and film installations at the Sonnabend Gallery in New York.

Documentary Film

Narrated by Isabella Rossellini, this documentary film produced by the National Gallery of Art combines original footage of the artist's native Milan and the Habsburg palaces of Vienna and Prague with images of Arcimboldo's work as a court painter, designer of festivals, and chronicler of the natural world. The film airs on WETA-TV Arlington Cable Channel 26 September 5 at 2:30 p.m., September 13 at 5:30 p.m., September 27 at 10:30 p.m., and September 28 at 4:30 p.m. This film was made possible by the HRH Foundation. Running time: 30 minutes.

A short version of the film is shown continuously in a theater adjacent to the exhibition. The film is shown in the East Building Small Auditorium, Monday–Friday, from 12:00 to closing (with exceptions), and in the East Building Auditorium on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays at 11:30.

Sunday Lecture

Admission is free of charge with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. See the full schedule of lectures at the Gallery at

Arcimboldo: Lombard Painter between Leonardo and Caravaggio
Sunday, September 19, 2:00 p.m.
Sylvia Ferino-Pagden, curator of Italian Renaissance art, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Book signing of Arcimboldo: 1526–1593 follows.
East Building Auditorium


Admission is free of charge with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. Learn more about concerts at the Gallery at

Wednesday, November 17, 12:10 p.m.
Music by Dalla Casa, Lasso, Ligeti, and other composers
Presented in honor of Arcimboldo, 1526–1593: Nature and Fantasy
West Building Lecture Hall

National Gallery of Art Chamber Players
Wednesday, November 24, 12:10 p.m.
Renaissance Italian Music
Presented in honor of Arcimboldo, 1526–1593: Nature and Fantasy
East Building Auditorium

Gallery Talks

Regular public tours of the exhibition will be given by the adult programs department of the education division. For additional times and topics, please consult the bimonthly calendar of events or the Gallery Talks section of the National Gallery of Art Web site at

Arcimboldo, 1526–1593: Nature and Fantasy
September 24, 27; October 9, 10, 14; November 14, 16, 18; and December 3, 11, 12, and 20 at noon September 28, 30 and October 2, 6, 8 at 1:00 p.m.
November 17, 19 at 2:00 p.m.
East Building Ground Level, Information Desk
Lecturers J. Russell Sale and Eric Denker lead 50-minute tours of the exhibition

Exhibition Booklet

Written by Sylvia Ferino-Pagden, guest curator and curator of Italian painting, Kunsthistorisches, Vienna, with contributions from the departments of exhibition programs and Italian paintings, the illustrated booklet summarizes Arcimboldo's career and contains a checklist of all the works of art in the exhibition. The booklet is available free-of-charge at the entrance to the exhibition.

Gallery Shops

The English version of the 320-page exhibition catalogue from Paris and Vienna, written by Ferino-Pagden and published by Skira, is available for purchase in the Gallery Shops. To order, please visit; call (800) 697-9350 or (202) 842-6002; fax (202) 789-3047; or e-mail [email protected].

All programs take place in the East Building Auditorium unless otherwise noted. Admission to the Gallery and its programs and exhibitions is free of charge. Seating for programs is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Exhibition Information

Arcimboldo, 1526–1593: Nature and Fantasy

Bizarre yet scientifically accurate, the allegorical composite heads painted by Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1526-1593) are featured in their first appearance together in the United States. Additional works, including drawings by Leonardo and Dürer, small bronzes, illustrated books and manuscripts, and ceramics, will provide a context for Arcimboldo's inventions.

The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

The exhibition is made possible by Louisa and Robert Duemling.

It also is sponsored by Altria Group.

Additional support is provided by The Exhibition Circle of the National Gallery of Art.

It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The exhibition is part of [email protected], a series of activities in Washington, DC, and throughout the United States, that celebrate the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy and the long-lasting friendship between the two countries.

General Information

The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden are at all times free to the public. They are located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, and are open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Gallery is closed on December 25 and January 1. For information call (202) 737-4215 or visit the Gallery's Web site at Follow the Gallery on Facebook at, Twitter at, and Instagram at

Visitors will be asked to present all carried items for inspection upon entering. Checkrooms are free of charge and located at each entrance. Luggage and other oversized bags must be presented at the 4th Street entrances to the East or West Building to permit x-ray screening and must be deposited in the checkrooms at those entrances. For the safety of visitors and the works of art, nothing may be carried into the Gallery on a visitor's back. Any bag or other items that cannot be carried reasonably and safely in some other manner must be left in the checkrooms. Items larger than 17 by 26 inches cannot be accepted by the Gallery or its checkrooms.
For additional press information please call or send inquiries to:
Department of Communications
National Gallery of Art
2000B South Club Drive
Landover, MD 20785
phone: (202) 842-6353
e-mail: [email protected]
Anabeth Guthrie
Chief of Communications
(202) 842-6804
[email protected]


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Press Kit

Exhibition Press Release

Checklist (PDF 20kb)

Altria Sponsor Statement (PDF 356kb)

Related Activities


Audio: Press Event (27:51 mins.)

Watch a video (14:12 mins.)

In Conversation: Winter (after Arcimboldo) by Philip Haas
Mark Leithauser, senior curator and head of design and installation, National Gallery of Art, and Philip Haas, artist and filmmaker

Arcimboldo, 1526–1593: Nature and Fantasy
David Brown, curator, Italian and Spanish paintings, National Gallery of Art, and Sylvia Ferino-Pagden, curator, Italian Renaissance painting, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Online Resources

Questions from members of the media may be directed to the Department of Communications at (202) 842-6353 or [email protected]

The public may call (202) 737-4215 or visit for more information about the National Gallery of Art.