Agnolo Bronzino is a famous Italian artist of the 16th century, an outstanding master of portrait and mythological genres, a bright representative of mannerism. Allegorical paintings are also often found in Bronzino’s work, and the artist’s biography is an excellent example of selfless service to art.
Agnolo Bronzino enthusiastically wrote not only magnificent easel works, but also created many colorful frescoes and altar paintings. He was a very educated and well-read person, maintained warm friendly relations with writers and often took up the pen himself, writing witty poems.
Biography of Agnolo Bronzino
His real name is Agnolo di Cosimo, and he received his nickname “Bronzino” at a young age for his characteristic bronze skin tone and red hair. From a young age, the boy showed a talent for drawing, so his parents sent him to study first in the studio of the artist Raffaellino del Garbo, and a little later, at the age of 14, to the famous portrait painter Pontormo.
It is Pontormo who deserves the credit for developing the unique style of his student. Until almost 30 years old, Bronzino worked a lot with his teacher on fresco paintings and paintings on religious themes, so the master’s works created during this period of his life are rightfully considered the joint works of two outstanding painters.
In 1530, a significant event took place in the life of Bronzino he was appointed court painter to the Duke of Urbino, Francesco Maria I della Rovere. Soon the artist received a voluminous order for the fresco painting of the villa of his patron, which he brilliantly coped with. Then Bronzino painted for the young heir to the duke Guidobaldo the painting “The Competition of Apollo and Marsyas” and his portrait. These works brought the painter wide fame and marked the beginning of the flourishing of his creative career.
In 1533, Bronzino returned to his native Florence, where he was appointed court painter to Duke Alessandro Medici. After 4 years, the 26-year-old patron of the painter died at the hands of a hired killer, but this event did not negatively affect the fate of the artist. On the contrary, after the death of Alessandro, the supreme power in Florence fell into the hands of his distant relative Cosimo (Cosimo I de Medici), who continued to patronize Bronzino.
The duties of the court painter included not only painting, but also organizing festive events with bright theatrical decorations.
In addition, Bronzino managed to draw sketches for Florentine tapestry workshops and create altar images for local churches.
For many years, the main genre in the artist’s work remained the portrait, and Bronzino never bothered to write a single self-portrait during his long life. But he left to descendants a number of interesting allegorical paintings, in which he skillfully depicted female and male nudity.
The artist lived most of his life in his native Florence, but in 1546 he made a creative trip to Rome, and in 1564 to Pisa. Having become a famous master of painting, Bronzino found time to train young talents, and his favorite student Alessandro Allori later became an outstanding portrait painter of the Mannerist era.
Bronzino was never married, had no children and was a very wealthy man. He led a rather modest life and preferred to spend time in the company of intellectuals, rather than in a noisy campaign of alcohol lovers. Nevertheless, the time allotted by fate to the artist was inevitably approaching a sad end.
On November 23, 1572, Bronzino left this world forever and went into eternity. His funeral took place in a very modest atmosphere, and a simple monument with a sincere inscription was erected on the grave of the great master: “He who lives as Bronzino did not die”.
The most famous paintings by Bronzino
Among the works of the great Italian painter, there are many outstanding masterpieces of art. And yet, the following works can rightfully be called the most famous paintings by Bronzino:
- “Allegory with Venus and Cupid” (1545) a multi-figured allegorical painting with a beautiful erotic image of the Roman goddess of love. And the identification of minor characters still causes fierce controversy among art critics.
- Portrait of Cosimo I Medici in Armor (1545) is the most famous of the artist’s portraits of the Grand Duke of Florence. The painting depicts the patron saint of Bronzino as a proud and confident ruler.
- “Portrait of Eleanor of Toledo with her son” (1545) the image of the wife of Cosimo Medici in a chic brocade dress with her son Giovanni. The lady’s clothing carefully hides the woman’s figure, which fully complies with the rules for painting a portrait of the 16th century in the style of Mannerism.
- “Portrait of Andrea Doria as Neptune” (1540s) is a beautiful allegorical painting in which the famous Genoese admiral appears before the viewer as the all-powerful god of the seas and oceans.
The work was written in the best traditions of classical antique sculpture, where the heroes were almost always depicted naked. Bronzino left a bright mark on the history of world fine art and will forever remain in the memory of posterity. And his beautiful paintings have amazed viewers for almost five centuries with their cold color and impeccable precision of the smallest details.