Agnolo di Cosimo (
November 17, 1503– November 23, 1572), usually known as Il Bronzino, or "Agnolo Bronzino" (mistaken attempts also have been made in the past to assert his name was "Agnolo Tori" and even "Angelo (Agnolo) Allori"), was an Italian Mannerist painter from Florence. The origin of his nickname, "Bronzino" is unknown, but could derive from his dark complexion, or from that he gave many of his portrait subjects. It has been claimed by some that he had dark skin as a symptom of Addison's disease, a condition which affects the adrenal glands and often causes excessive pigmentation of the skin.
thumb|right|upright|"St. Mark", 1525–28fresco, Capponi ChapelBronzino was born in
Florencearound 1503. According to his contemporary Vasari, Bronzino was a pupil first of Raffaellino del Garbo, and then of Pontormo. The latter was ultimately the primary influence on Bronzino's developing style and the young artist remained devoted to his eccentric teacher. Indeed, Pontormo is thought to have introduced a portraitof Bronzino as a child into one of his series on "Joseph in Egypt" now in the National Gallery, London. [Elizabeth Pilliod, "Pontormo, Bronzino, and Allori: A Genealogy of Florentine Art" (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001).] Bronzino's early indebtedness to Pontormo's instruction can be seen in the arresting little Capponi Chapel in Santa Felicita, Florence. During the mid 1520s, the two artists worked together on this commission, though Bronzino is believed to have mostly served as an assistant to his teacher on the masterly "Annunciation" and "The Deposition from the Cross" frescoes that adorn the main walls of the chapel. The four "tondi" that contain images of the evangelistsabove are more of a mystery: Vasari wrote that Bronzino painted two of them, but his style is so similar to Pontormo's that scholars still debate the specific attributions. [ [http://www.wga.hu/index1.html Web Gallery of Art, image collection, virtual museum, searchable database of European fine arts (1100-1850) ] ]
Towards the end of his life, Bronzino took a prominent part in the activities of the Florentine
Accademia del Disegno, of which he was a founding member in 1563.
Alessandro Alloriwas 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 Allori).Cecil Gould, "The Sixteenth Century Italian Schools, National Gallery Catalogues", (London 1975), ISBN 0947645225] Bronzino spent the majority of his career in Florence.
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.
thumbnail|upright|right|"Portrait of Laura Battiferri", c. 1560; Oil on canvas; Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.Bronzino's best known works comprise the above-mentioned 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 Bronzino invented 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. [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)]
Bronzino's so-called 'allegorical portraits,' such as that of a Genoese admiral, "
Andrea Doriaas Neptune" (left), is less typical but possibly even more fascinating due to the peculiarity of placing a publicly recognized personality in the nude as a mythical figure. [Maurice Brock, "Bronzino" (Paris: Flammarion; London: Thames & Hudson, 2002).] 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 Laura Battiferri (right), wife of sculptor/architect Bartolommeo Ammanati. [Deborah, Parker, "Bronzino: Renaissance Painter as Poet" (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000).]
thumbnail|left|"Crossing the Red Sea", 1541–42Fresco, Chapel of Eleanora di Toledo, Palazzo Vecchio.
In 1540/41, Bronzino began work on the fresco decoration of the Chapel of Eleanora di Toledo in the
Palazzo Vecchio(at left). Elegant and classicizing, these religious works are excellent illustrations of the mid-16th-century aesthetics of the Florentine court, traditionally interpreted as highly-stylized and non-personal or emotive. The 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 duchessEleanora was a generous patron to the recently founded Jesuitorder. [Janet Cox-Rearick, "Bronzino's Chapel of Eleonora in the Palazzo Vecchio" (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993).]
Bronzino's work tends to include sophisticated references to earlier painters, as in "The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence" (1569), in which almost every one of the extraordinarily contorted poses can be traced back to
Raphaelor to Michelangelo, who Bronzino idolized. Bronzino's skill with the nudewas even more enigmatically deployed in the celebrated " Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time", which conveys strong feelings of eroticismunder the pretext of a moralizing allegory. His other major works include the design of a series of tapestrieson "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.
Use in popular culture
Terry Gilliamfrom British comedy group Monty Pythonfamously used Cupid's right foot from " Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time" for crushing down the titles on " Monty Python's Flying Circus".
David LaChapellecreated his own version of the painting " Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time".
*Francis Cornish, the main character of
Robertson Davies' What's Bred in the Bone, was obsessed with the meaning of " Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time"
*"St. Mark" (c. 1525) - Oil on Wood, Capponi Chapel, [Santa Trinita, Florence
*"St. Matthew" (c. 1525) - Oil on Wood, Capponi Chapel, [Santa Trinita, Florence
*"St. Sebastian" (1525-1528) - Oil on panel, 87 x 77 cm, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
*"Pietà" (c. 1530) - Oil on panel, 105 x 100 cm,
*"Allegorical Portrait of Dante" (c. 1530) - Oil on wood, 127 x 120 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington
*"Portrait of a Lady in Green" (1530-1532) - Oil on panel, 76,7 x 65,4 cm, Royal Collection, Windsor
*"Holy Family "(1534-1540) - 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, Florence
*"Portrait of a Young Man" (c. 1540) - Oil on wood, 96 x 75 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time" ("Allegory"; 1540-1545) - Oil on panel, 146 x 116 cm, National Gallery, London
*"Passage in the Red Sea " (1540-1545) - Fresco, 320 x 490 cm,
Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
Adoration of the Bronze Snake" (1540-1545) - Fresco, 320 x 385 cm, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
*"Deposition of Christ" (1540-1545) - Oil on panel, 268 x 173 cm, Musée des Beaux- Arts, Besançon
*"Portrait of a Young Girl" (1541-1545) - Oil on wood, 58 x 46,5 cm, Uffizi, Florence
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 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
Portrait of Stefano Colonna" (1546) - Oil on panel, 125 x 95 cm, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome
Portrait of Giovanni de' Medici" (c. 1549) - Tempera on wood, 58 x 46 cm, Uffizi, Florence
Portrait of Don Garcia de' Medici" (1550) - Oil on panel, Museo del Prado, Madrid
*"Portrait of a Lady" (c. 1550) - Oil on wood, 109 x 85 cm,
Galleria Sabauda, Turin
Portrait of 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
Pierantonio Bandini" (c.1550-1555) - Oil on wood, 106,7 x 82,5 cm, 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
*"Holy Family "(1555-1560) - Tempera on wood, 117 x 99 cm, Pushkin Museum, Moscow
*"Portrait of 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 Louvre, Paris
Allegory of Happiness" (1564) - Oil on copper, 40 x 30 cm, Uffizi, Florence
*"Deposition of Christ" (1565) - Oil on wood, 350 x 235 cm, Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence
*"Martyrdom of St. Lawrence" (1569) - Fresco, San Lorenzo,
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