Six years ago, I took my two daughters to see Arcimboldo, 1526-1593: Nature and Fantasy at the National Gallery of Art. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing the botanical portrait paintings by Renaissance artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo, best known for his series The Seasons. We marveled at a 15-foot, three-dimensional re-creation of Winter by contemporary artist and filmmaker Philip Haas. Now, you too can see Haas’ sculpture Winter, as well as Spring, Summer, and Autumn on the ellipse lawn at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens through March 31, 2017.
My daughters are now 12 and 16 and our fascination with these botanical depictions of faces has never waned. I took them on a beautiful fall day during election week. On the first floor, near the information desk, you will find a model for Spring. Upstairs in the exhibit space outside of the gift shop, you can see a very short introductory film about the sculptures, narrated by Philip Haas. You can also view models of the other three seasons.
A short walk away and outside of the Adirondack building, you will find the lovely, landscaped ellipse lawn with the 15-foot fiberglass sculptures of Winter, Autumn, Summer, and Spring. You can examine all the sculptures from every angle. With all the intricate detail, they can be turned into a Where’s Waldo type scavenger hunt. Winter is obviously the barest with ivy tendrils and lots of bark. Summer is dressed in sheaths of wheat. Its ears are made of corn and it displays summer’s bounty of grapes, cherries, plums, and a cantaloupe.
Spring has a profusion of fresh flowers. I especially liked the lily of the valley teeth. Autumn is dressed in a wine cask and has bunches of grapes and apples. The Four Seasons can also be interpreted to represent the four humors and the four ages of man. My older daughter liked Spring and Winter the best; my younger daughter liked Summer and Winter the best; and I liked Summer and Autumn the best. My daughters thought the sculptures were “super cool” and I enjoyed them so much that I might even return with my husband.
After examining the sculptures, you can tour the mansion with its Faberge eggs, explore the special exhibition Deco Japan 1920-1945 in the Dacha and Adirondack buildings (on view through January 1, 2017), shop in the museum store, go into the greenhouse. and wander through the gardens and hiking trails. Since we were short on time, we just visited the Japanese style garden with its carp, bridges, and stone paths and the Pet Cemetery.
- Suggested Admission: $18 for adults; $15 for senior; $10 for college students; $5 for visitors 6 to 18; free for 6 and under. Reserve your tickets online, when you do, adults and seniors receive $3 off the suggested donation for weekday visits and $1 off for weekend visits
- Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Mondays and most holidays. Note: Hillwood will be closed January 23 through February 3, 2017.
- Refreshments: The Cafe serves the following meals: Lunch Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Afternoon Tea Sundays 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Express Dining, a quick selection of sandwiches and snacks Tuesdays through Sundays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ($8 for a sandwich).
Photos courtesy of Beth and Sarah Meyer.