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08|11|17 Practical information & Knowledge resources

Arcimboldo. The Floras and Spring Exhibition



New technology offers innovative ways of accessing works of art and the tactile table that features in this exhibition is an example of this, showing micro-photographs that allow for a more detailed knowledge of the techniques used to create the works on display.

Arcimboldo's technique can now be much better understood from inside the painting and through a surprising experience that encourages visitors to become active participants. An interactive app has been specially devised for the multi-tactile table, allowing users to appreciate the artist's work from numerous different perspectives and with a playful approach comparable to the artist's own. One example is the group of allegories of the Four Seasons to which Spring (on display in the exhibition) belongs, and the group of the Four Elements, a series painted for the Emperor Maximilian II. Visitors can interact in order to appreciate the Mannerist game of correspondences between the two series and also enter into the vegetable world of Flora meretrix through a botanical study of the flowers depicted in the painting which has been specially undertaken for this exhibition.

This interactive app allows visitors to learn more about other related aspects, including botanical illustration of the time and the meaning of the myths of Flora and Spring through other paintings. Other themes to be explored include Arcimboldo's influence on later art, particularly as a forerunner of the Surrealists, who rescued him from oblivion and were inspired by his unique vision of objects.


Banca March and the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum have published a catalogue to accompany the exhibition. It includes the essay by Miguel Falomir "Giuseppe Arcimboldo: Science, Erudition and Artifice", in which the author surveys Arcimboldo's career as a court painter and analyses his works and techniques through particular examples including the so-called "teste composte" or composite heads. The catalogue also includes reproductions of the works on display in the exhibition accompanied by their corresponding technical details.

The catalogue is completed with a section that reproduces conversations in couplets written by Giambattista Fonteo, Arcimboldo's collaborator, which were composed to accompany the paintings of the Four Seasons and the Four Elements that the painter created for the Emperor Maximilian II. Finally, there is a botanical and zoological analysis of Flora meretrix by J. Emilio Blanco Castro, José Luis Viejo Montesinos and José Luis Merino Gorospe.

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The Education and Cultural Action Department has prepared reference material on the exhibition which is available to teachers, group leaders and anyone else interested in using the material to prepare a visit to the museum.

It may be downloaded free of charge from here (in spanish & basque).


Opening times: Wednesdays to Mondays, 10am to 8pm (closed on Tuesdays).

Free entry from 6pm to 8pm.


Admission fees

Tickets may be purchased on-line