Arcimboldo and The Tale of Despereaux

I skipped lunch the other day to watch the exhibition film for Arcimboldo, 1526-1593: Nature and Fantasy, currently on view at the National Gallery, which references the character of Boldo in the animated feature The Tale of Despereaux.  That's Boldo in the image above, a character composed entirely of fruits and vegetables, pots and pans--distinctly resembling the composite heads painted by his namesake, the Renaissance artist Arcimboldo.

Unfortunately, I couldn't remember a character named Boldo in Kate DiCamillo's Newbery Award-winning novel The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread (illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering with no apparent debt to Arcimboldo; Scholastic, 2003) and was forced to reread it.  In vain, as it turns out: Boldo (a sort of soup genie) was created for the movie version of the book (which I also watched this weekend). The animation, by London-based Framestore, employs a palette and lighting drawn from the Dutch Masters; and the movie also spotlights two portraits, one of the deceased Queen and another of Princess Pea.  Altogether I prefer the movie.  You can watch a video podcast (of the exhibition film, that is! It's narrated by Isabella Rossellini) here, or better yet, at the National Gallery til January 9, 2011.

[Here's Arcimboldo's Vertumnus (c. 1591, on loan from Skokloster Castle in Sweden) for comparison to Boldo.  Note especially the apple cheeks!]