Antonio Vivaldi's cycle of violin concertos dramatizing the four seasons marked a substantial shift in the way that the seasons were depicted in the arts. Moving away from religious and mythological allegory, they exemplify a growing interest in descriptive representation of nature's power and in humanity's complex physical and emotional relationship with elements beyond its control. Positing new connections to Arcadian reform ideals of verisimilitude, this article addresses important questions concerning Vivaldi's pairing of sonnets with concertos and the aesthetic factors behind his choice of narrative topics to depict in the music. The article also demonstrates how Vivaldi used diverse textures and sonorities to create powerful contrasts that heighten the emotional impact of the aural imagery while underlining recurring expressive and pictorial motifs throughout the cycle. These last aspects, in particular, provide a new understanding of the historical significance of Vivaldi's Four Seasons as a powerful demonstration of both the expressive potential of the concerto genre and the still underappreciated art of orchestration during the early eighteenth century.