King’s Court Fiery Brush
A brush gives tribute to earthly elements
Fire, Water, Earth, and Air as it paints
homage and loyalty to Maximillian II in colors
bearing the imperial double eagle which covers
a collar signifying the order of the Golden fleece
It depicts hair as a crown of blazing logs
a forehead from a wound up fuse
an extinguished candle stub for eyes
a nose and ear contoured by fire-steels
a mustache from a bundle of wood shavings
a cheek from large fire-stones
a chin from an oil lamp that runs
down with a candle for a neck that burns
a mortar and cannon with barrels
making up a chest of firearms.
Today this portrait hangs
in the Kunsthistorisches Museum as a series
with its sister Water in Vienna except for Earth’s
portrait which now belongs
to a private collection under Viennese Paintings
while air is still lost amidst aspiring copies.
Like history, art and writing are often politicized by financiers, publishers, and governments or kings. Fire, a portrait by artist Arcimboldo Giuseppe was no different. It is one of the four portraits he painted representing Earth's elements for the purpose of showing loyalty to the sole beneficiary of this series Emperor Maximilian II.