Compared to the other seasons Arcimboldo painted, ‘King’ Winter posed a challenge as it lacked the flowers of Spring, the vegetables and fruits of Summer and the products of the Autumn harvest.
He stays true to the season by showing the bare wooden structures that are left when the leaves have disappeared by the cold and wind. The only decorations that are left are the mushrooms as lips, the evergreen Hedera as hair and the citron and orange which are both typical winter fruits. The cloak King Winter wears is monogrammed with an M, referring to the emperor Maximillian who owned a cloak that looked like this one. Contrary to what you might expect the emperor didn’t mind being painted like this, he and other members of his court even dressed up as the element and seasons in a 1571 festival Arcimboldo orchestrated (Maximilian of course in the guise of Winter).