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Visual arts >

Art for the age of petroleum

Nicholas Cranfield on powerhouses of the throwaway society

GIUSEPPE ARCIMBOLDO (1526-93) may not exactly be a household name, but he is the witty and bizarre Italian painter best known for painting portrait heads from a mix of fruit and veg., flowers, and all manner of things. Nothing is ever quite as it seems, and there is a degree of mischief as well as brilliance in all his allegorical work (although he undertook more conventional commissions that have fallen into oblivion).

Surprisingly, he became the imperial court painter to ...

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