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Arcimboldo exhibition a must for gardeners

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Recently, I played hooky. It was a beautiful November day and I could have been cutting back some long canes on the roses to prevent them flying around this coming winter.

Or I could have hauled my ceramic pots into the basement to prevent their chipping and cracking in the cold and wet in winter. I could have covered the arugula and spinach with their little hoops and heavy plastic.

A day for garden-releated art

Instead, I went with a dear friend for a look at the art of Giuseppi Arcimboldo at the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Though I used to live closer when I was a daily commuter to this great city, now it is a journey, so I don’t visit as often as I would like to.

My friend had seen the exhibit [pdf], told me of it, and couldn’t wait to look again. Arcimboldo lived in the 1500s and skillfully painted fantastical and scientifically accurate portraits using vegetables, flowers, fish, birds, and on and on. Teeth are lily of the valley flowers, for instance. Ears are figs.

Of the paintings in the exhibition, several are on loan from the Louvre. At one point I stood too close to the Louvre loaners and was nicely reprimanded by an alert guard. “One foot – 12 inches away…”

One fascinating portrait is of fire, with gold flames erupting from this man with his “hair on fire” and cannons depicting his chest.



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