By Alexis Culotta

Agnolo di Cosimo, better known as Agnolo Bronzino or simply Bronzino, died 23 November 1572 in Florence. Though producing paintings on allegorical and religious topics, Bronzino is perhaps best known for his portraits, particularly those rendered under the patronage of Cosimo de’ Medici. 

Born in Florence in November 1503, Bronzino became the apprentice of Jacopo Pontormo in the later 1510s. Pontormo’s unique late sixteenth-century approach to painting had great influence on Bronzino, so much so that his early work reveals a style quite similar to that of his mentor. Bronzino’s rise to artistic acclaim accelerated in the 1530s when he was tasked with his first Medici family commission to conjure decorations for Cosimo I’s wedding to Eleonora di Toledo. This role soon after grew into an appointment as the Duke’s official court painter. 

It was through these portrait commissions, alongside his other subject matter as well, that Bronzino was able to showcase his abilities for rich details and effects of color. These were skills Bronzino aimed to impart on his pupil, Alessandro Allori, who carried the legacy of Bronzino and his artistic heritage into the seventeenth century. 

Further reading: 

Carlo Falciani and Antonio Natali, eds., The Cinquecento in Florence: ‘Modern Manner’ and Counter-Reformation (Mandragora, 2017). 

Deborah Parker, “Bronzino and the Diligence of Art.” Artibus et Historiae, 25 (49)(2004), 161-174. 

Elizabeth Pilliod, Pontormo, Bronzino, and Allori: A Genealogy of Florentine Art (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001). 

Holy Family with Saint John the Baptist(copy), second half 16th century. The State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg. 

Portrait of a Young Man, 1530. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 

Allegory of the Triumph of Venus (Venus, Cupid, Folly, and Time), 1540-1545. National Gallery, London. 

Eleonora di Toledo and her son Giovanni, 1544-1545. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. 

Pietà, 1530. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. 

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