Friday, July 22, 2011

Evolution of a Painted Librarian: Peter Sis channels Giuseppe Arcimboldo

The Librarian (Wolfgang Lazius), ca. 1562. Oil on canvas. 97 x 71 cm (38 3/16 x 28 in.)

In the mid-16th century the Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo gave us The Librarian, a portrait  composed almost entirely of books. One of the most original painters of the Renaissance it is not hard to see how his work would influence the Surrealists and Cubists some 400 years later.

In his 1994 book The Three Golden Keys illustrator Peter Sís "recaptures the wonder of his own lost childhood in Prague and celebrates the city's cultural heritage, reborn after forty-five years of Communist rule." One of the places he finds a Golden Key is at the library.

The caption for the illustration gives an anonymous nod to Arcimboldo. It reads:

"The librarian magically emerges from the wall. I have seen him before in some old painting. He moves toward me, holding a scroll'

and it is the reading of that scroll that results in a Golden Key.

Also of note is this engraving, (after) Arcimboldo's 'The Librarian,' by Georg Philipp Harsdörffer. It was included in Harsdörffer's 8 volume work 'Frauenzimmer Gesprechspiele' that was published through the 1640s.

For more of Harsdörffer's work see this post from the BibliOdyssey archive, The Odd Baroque


Ann Gish said...
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Ann Gish said...

A GPRC Library staff member created a replica. 3D Arcimbold replica

GPRC Library

David Booker said...

Now that is very cool!