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The Cover
September 19, 2007


Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2007;298(11):1256. doi:10.1001/jama.298.11.1256

There are many imitators, numerous copyists, perhaps even a few forgers, but there is only one Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593). During his lifetime the 16th-century Milanese artist was well known, multitalented, and in much of his work a conventional Mannerist: he designed tapestries and stained glass windows for cathedrals and served as painter to both the Austrian and the Bohemian Hapsburg courts. What made him unique, however, were his fantasy “still-life portraits,” composite heads formed of bits and pieces of almost anything in the animal, vegetable, or mineral kingdoms: fruit, vegetables, flowers, birds, body parts, tools, weapons, even books and cooking utensils. Although his cathedral work and tapestry designs are largely forgotten today except by scholars, his fantasy heads have earned him renewed interest and 20th-century fame. A kind of 16th-century Salvador Dali, Arcimboldo is often referred to as the “father of surrealism.”

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