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The Librarian (Wolfgang Lazius), ca. 1562


© Skoklosters Slott, Stockholm; used with permission

Giuseppe Arcimboldo (Italian, ca. 1527-1593). The Librarian (Wolfgang Lazius), ca. 1562. Oil on canvas. 97 x 71 cm (38 3/16 x 28 in.).

© Skoklosters Slott, Stockholm

'Wolfgang Lazius' is the Latinized name of Wolfgang Laz (1514-1565), an Austrian physician-cum-cartographer/historian in the employ of the Hapsburgs. You will note that Arcimboldo has painted the librarian's paper "fingers" clutching a stack of books acquisitively. Over 400 years later, Lazius still hasn't been able to shake the reputation that he obtained records by whatever means necessary ... including theft.

On a purely art historic and non-pejorative-to-Lazius note, is this not an amazing composition? Submitted for your consideration: Cubism, 350 years ahead of the official movement.

About the show:

The Milanese and the Hapsburgs couldn't get enough of him during his 16th century lifetime but, after his death, Giuseppe Arcimboldo's works languished unnoticed in some moldering closet of art history for over 300 years. Until, that is, the Surrealists came along, drew inspiration from his anthropomorphic paintings and touted the artist's name once again. Now, nearly another 100 years on, Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1526-1593) illustrates that his best-known works remain as fun, fresh and innovative as anything that's been done since, and were grounded in solid draftsmanship and compositional skills. The show includes 40 paintings, about 30 objets d'art (including weapons and armor), graphic works and one tapestry, all on loan from private and public collections worldwide.

Scheduled Venues

Musée du Luxembourg, Paris: September 15, 2007-January 13, 2008
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna: February 11-June 1, 2008

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