Agnolo di Cosimo (Italian: [ˈaɲɲolo di ˈkɔːzimo]; November
17, 1503 – November 23, 1572), usually known as
Bronzino" [il bronˈdziːno] in Italian), or Agnolo Bronzino, was a
Florentine Mannerist painter. His sobriquet, Bronzino, in all
probability refers to his relatively dark skin.
He lived all his life in Florence, and from his late 30s was kept busy
as the court painter of Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. He
was mainly a portraitist but also painted many religious subjects, and
a few allegorical subjects, which include what is probably his best
known work, Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time, c. 1544–45, now in London.
Many portraits of the Medicis exist in several versions with varying
degrees of participation by
Bronzino himself, as Cosimo was a pioneer
of the copied portrait sent as a diplomatic gift.
He trained with Pontormo, the leading Florentine painter of the first
generation of Mannerism, and his style was greatly influenced by him,
but his elegant and somewhat elongated figures always appear calm and
somewhat reserved, lacking the agitation and emotion of those by his
teacher. They have often been found cold and artificial, and his
reputation suffered from the general critical disfavour attached to
Mannerism in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Recent decades have
been more appreciative of his art.
2.2 Religious and allegorical subjects
3 Selected works
6 External links
Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time, c. 1544–45, London, National Gallery
Bronzino was born in Florence, the son of a butcher. According to his
Bronzino was a pupil first of Raffaellino del
Garbo, and then of Pontormo, to whom he was apprenticed at 14.
Pontormo is thought to have introduced a portrait of
Bronzino as a
child (seated on a step) into one of his series on Joseph in Egypt now
in the National Gallery, London.
Pontormo exercised a dominant
influence on Bronzino's developing style, and the two were to remain
collaborators for most of the former's life. An early example of
Bronzino's hand has often been detected in the
Capponi Chapel in the
Santa Felicita by the
Ponte Vecchio in Florence. Pontormo
designed the interior and executed the altarpiece, the masterly
Deposition from the Cross and the sidewall fresco Annunciation.
Bronzino apparently was assigned the frescoes on the dome, which have
not survived. Of the four empanelled tondi or roundels depicting each
of the evangelists, two were said by
Vasari to have been painted by
Bronzino. His style is so similar to his master's that scholars still
debate the specific attributions.
Towards the end of his life,
Bronzino took a prominent part in the
activities of the Florentine Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, of
which he was a founding member in 1563.
Alessandro Allori was his favourite pupil, and Bronzino
was living in the Allori family house at the time of his death in
Florence in 1572 (Alessandro was also the father of Cristofano
Bronzino spent the majority of his career in Florence.
Eleonora di Toledo
Eleonora di Toledo col figlio Giovanni, 1544–45, oil on wood, Uffizi
Portrait of a Young Man, c. 1550–55, London, National Gallery
Bronzino first received Medici patronage in 1539, when he was one of
the many artists chosen to execute the elaborate decorations for the
wedding of Cosimo I de' Medici to Eleonora di Toledo, daughter of the
Viceroy of Naples. It was not long before he became, and remained for
most of his career, the official court painter of the Duke and his
court. His portrait figures—often read as static, elegant, and
stylish exemplars of unemotional haughtiness and
assurance—influenced the course of European court portraiture for a
century. These well known paintings exist in many workshop versions
and copies. In addition to images of the Florentine elite, Bronzino
also painted idealized portraits of the poets
Dante (c. 1530, now in
Washington, DC) and Petrarch.
Bronzino's best known works comprise the aforementioned series of the
duke and duchess, Cosimo and Eleonora, and figures of their court such
as Bartolomeo Panciatichi and his wife Lucrezia. These paintings,
especially those of the duchess, are known for their minute attention
to the detail of her costume, which almost takes on a personality of
its own in the image at right. Here the
Duchess is pictured with her
second son Giovanni, who died of malaria in 1562, along with his
mother; however it is the sumptuous fabric of the dress that takes up
more space on the canvas than either of the sitters. Indeed, the dress
itself has been the object of some scholarly debate. The elaborate
gown has been rumored to be so beloved by the duchess that she was
ultimately buried in it; when this myth was debunked, others suggested
that perhaps the garment never existed at all and
the entire thing, perhaps working only from a fabric swatch. In any
case, this picture was reproduced over and over by
Bronzino and his
shop, becoming one of the most iconic images of the duchess. The
version pictured here is in the
Uffizi Gallery, and is one of the
finest surviving examples.
Bronzino's so-called "allegorical portraits", such as that of a
Portrait of Andrea Doria as Neptune, are less typical
but possibly even more fascinating due to the peculiarity of placing a
publicly recognized personality in the nude as a mythical figure.
Finally, in addition to being a painter,
Bronzino was also a poet, and
his most personal portraits are perhaps those of other literary
figures such as that of his friend the poet Laura Battiferri.
Religious and allegorical subjects
The Holy Family with the Infant Saint John the Baptist (Madonna
Bronzino began work on the fresco decoration of the Chapel
of Eleanora di Toledo in the
Palazzo Vecchio and an oil on panel
Deposition of Christ to be an altarpiece for the chapel. Before this
commission, his style in the religious genre was less Mannerist, and
was based in balanced compositions of the High Renaissance. Yet he
became elegant and classicizing (cf. Smyth) in this fresco cycle, and
his religious works are examples of the mid-16th-century aesthetics of
the Florentine court—traditionally interpreted as highly stylized
and non-personal or emotive. Crossing the Red Sea is typical of
Bronzino's approach at this time, though it should not be claimed that
Bronzino or the court was lacking in religious fervor on the basis of
the preferred court fashion. Indeed, the duchess Eleanora was a
generous patron to the recently founded
Bronzino's work tends to include sophisticated references to earlier
painters, as in one of his last grand frescoes called The Martyrdom of
St. Lawrence (San Lorenzo, 1569), in which almost every one of the
extraordinarily contorted poses can be traced back to
Raphael or to
Bronzino idolized (cf. Brock). Bronzino's skill
with the nude was even more enigmatically deployed in the celebrated
Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time, which conveys strong feelings of
eroticism under the pretext of a moralizing allegory. His other major
works include the design of a series of tapestries on The Story of
Joseph, for the Palazzo Vecchio.
Many of Bronzino's works are still in
Florence but other examples can
be found in the National Gallery, London, and elsewhere.
St. Mark (c. 1525) - Oil on Wood, Capponi Chapel, Santa Felicita,
St. Matthew (c. 1525) - Oil on Wood, Capponi Chapel, Santa Felicita,
St. Sebastian (1525–28) - Oil on panel, 87 x 77 cm, Museo
Portrait of Lorenzo Lenzi (1527–28) - Oil on panel, castello
Pietà (c. 1530) - Oil on panel, 105 x 100 cm, Uffizi, Florence
Dante (1530) - Oil on panel, Milan
Portrait of a Lady in Green (1530–32) - Oil on panel, 76,7 x
65,4 cm, Royal Collection, Windsor
Holy Family (1534–40) - Oil on wood, 124.5 x 99.5 cm,
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Adoration of the Shepherds (1535–1540) - Oil on wood, 65,3 x
46,7 cm, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest
Portrait of Ugolino Martelli (before 1537) - Oil on panel, 102 x
85 cm, Staatliche Museum, Berlin
Portrait of Bartolomeo Panciatichi (c. 1540) - Tempera on wood, 104 x
84 cm, Uffizi, Florence
Holy Family (c. 1540) - Oil on wood, 117 x 93 cm, Uffizi,
Portrait of a Young Man with a Book (c. 1540) - Oil on wood, 96 x
75 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time
Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time (Allegory; 1540–45) - Oil on panel, 146
x 116 cm, National Gallery, London
Adoration of the Bronze Snake (1540–45) - Fresco, 320 x 385 cm,
Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
Deposition of Christ (1540–45) - Oil on panel, 268 x 173 cm,
Musée des Beaux- Arts, Besançon
Crossing of the Red Sea (1541–42) - Fresco, 320 x 490 cm,
Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
Portrait of a Young Girl (1541–45) - Oil on wood, 58 x 46,5 cm,
Portrait of Bia de' Medici (c. 1542) - Tempera on panel, 63 x
48 cm, Uffizi, Florence
Portrait of Cosimo I de' Medici (1545) - Oil on panel, 74 x
58 cm, Uffizi, Florence
Portrait of Giovanni de' Medici as a Child (c. 1545) - Oil on wood, 58
x 46 cm, Uffizi, Florence
Portrait of Eleonora of Toledo (c. 1545) - Oil on panel, 115 x
96 cm, Uffizi, Florence
Portrait of Lucrezia Panciatichi (c. 1545) - Oil on panel, 101 x
82.8 cm, Uffizi, Florence
Christ on the Cross (c. 1545) - Oil on panel, 145 x 115 cm,
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nice
Portrait of Stefano Colonna (1546) - Oil on panel, 125 x 95 cm,
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome
Portrait of Don Garcia de' Medici (1550) - Oil on panel, Museo del
Portrait of a Lady (c. 1550) - Oil on wood, 109 x 85 cm, Galleria
Venus, Cupid and Jealousy (or Envy) (c. 1550) - Oil on wood, 192 x
142 cm, Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest
Andrea Doria as Neptune
Andrea Doria as Neptune (1550–1555) - Oil on canvas, 115
x 53 cm, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
St. John the Baptist (1550–1555) - Oil on wood, 120 x 92 cm,
Galleria Borghese, Rome
Portrait of Pierantonio Bandini (c.1550–1555) - Oil on wood, 106,7 x
National Gallery of Canada
Portrait of Francesco I de' Medici (1551) - Tempera on wood, 58.5 x
41.5 cm, Uffizi, Florence
Portrait of Maria de' Medici (1551) - Tempera on wood, 52.5 x
38 cm, Uffizi, Florence
Portrait of Ludovico Capponi (1551) - Oil on wood, 117 x 86 cm,
Frick Collection, New York
Christ in Limbo, 1552, Florence, Museo dell'Opera di Santa Croce
Holy Family (1555–1560) - Tempera on wood, 117 x 99 cm, Pushkin
Laura Battiferri (1555–1560) - Oil on canvas, 83 x
60 cm, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
Noli me tangere (1561) - Oil on canvas, 291 x 195 cm, Musée du
Allegory of Happiness (1564) - Oil on copper, 40 x 30 cm, Uffizi,
Deposition of Christ (1565) - Oil on wood, 350 x 235 cm, Galleria
Martyrdom of St. Lawrence (1569) - Fresco, San Lorenzo, Florence
Saint Sebastian, 1533
Andrea Doria as Neptune, 1550–55, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
Portrait of Eleonora of Toledo, c. 1539
A portrait of an unknown woman and boy, c. 1540. Art historian Maike
Vogt-Lüerssen believes the woman is Maria de' Medici, depicted with
her younger brother Antonio.
Portrait of Laura Battiferri, 1555–60
Holy Family with St. Anne and the Infant St. John, 1545
Portrait of Bia de' Medici, 1545
Portrait of a Man Holding a Statuette, 1545
Sacra famiglia Panciatichi or Madonna Panciatichi, 1545
Portrait of Stefano Colonna, 1546
Portrait Cosimo I de' Medici in armour, c. 1545
Ugolino Martelli, c. 1537
Portrait of Cosimo I de' Medici as Orpheus, c. 1537–39
Venus, Cupid and Envy, c. 1548–50
John the Baptist, 1553
Bronzino and The Mannerist Portrait, Smarthistory
Eleonora di Toledo
Eleonora di Toledo with her son Giovanni,
^ Mistaken attempts also have been made in the past to assert his name
was Agnolo Tori and even Angelo (Agnolo) Allori
^ Chilvers, Ian (2008). Dizionario dell'arte. Dalai Editore.
p. 179. ISBN 88-6073-115-1.
^ Elizabeth Pilliod, Pontormo, Bronzino, and Allori: A Genealogy of
Florentine Art (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001).
^ Web Gallery of Art, image collection, virtual museum, searchable
database of European fine arts (1100–1850)
^ Cecil Gould, The Sixteenth Century Italian Schools, National Gallery
London 1975), ISBN 0-947645-22-5
^ Janet Cox-Rearick, Splendors of the Renaissance: reconstructions of
historic costumes from King Studio,
Italy by Fausto Fornasori, Catalog
of an exhibition held at Art Gallery of the Graduate Center, City
University of New York, Mar. 10–Apr. 24, 2004, (King Studio, 2004)
^ Maurice Brock,
Bronzino (Paris: Flammarion; London: Thames &
^ Deborah, Parker, Bronzino: Renaissance Painter as
and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000).
^ Janet Cox-Rearick, Bronzino's Chapel of Eleonora in the Palazzo
Vecchio (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993).
Bronzino and The Mannerist Portrait".
Smarthistory at Khan Academy.
Retrieved January 6, 2013.
Eleonora di Toledo
Eleonora di Toledo with her son Giovanni".
Smarthistory at Khan Academy. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
Maurice Brock, Bronzino, Edition du Régard, Paris 2002.
The Drawings of Bronzino, exh. cat. ed. by Carmen C. Bambach, contr.
by Elizabeth Pilliod, Marzia Faietti, Janet Cox-Rearick, Philippe
Costamagna, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
ISBN 978-1-58839-354-8, 978-0-300-15512-9
Bronzino: pittore e poeta alla corte dei Medici, exh. cat. ed. by
Antonio Natali e Carlo Falciani, Palazzo Strozzi,
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Agnolo Bronzino.
Bronzino: artist and poet. InToscana.
Agnolo Bronzino's Biography, Style and Artworks
The National Gallery: Agnolo Bronzino
Bronzino at Encyclopaedia Britannica
Great Works of Western Art: Agnolo Bronzino,
Portrait of Lodovico
Palazzo Strozzi, Florence/Bruce Adolphe's "Of Art and Onions: Homage
Italian Paintings: Florentine School, a collection catalog containing
information about the artist and his works (see pages: 200-204).
ISNI: 0000 0003 7116 0514
BNF: cb14957640w (data)