Wednesday, April 28, 2010

THE "HIGH MANNERIST" STYLE



Agnolo di Cosimo di Mariano, called Il Bronzino, was one of the leading painters of the Florentine School in mid-sixteenth-century Italy. He eventually became court painter to Cosimo de Medici.
(Michael G. Cornelius at glbtq, Inc.)


Cosimo I Medici
Oil on wood, 1545
Galleria degli Uffizi Florence
From Wikimedia


Born in Monticelli in 1503, Bronzino studied with mannerist painter and portraitist Jacopo Pontormo (1494-1557), whose style the young artist soon adapted for himself. Mannerism involves the adjustment of volume and spatial boundaries and the alteration of figures to create a harmonious unity in art and architecture. Bronzino softened and lengthened his master's brushstrokes, and in so doing he created a style unique to himself.
(Michael G. Cornelius at glbtq, Inc.)


Eleanor of Toledo with her Son Giovanni
Oil on wood, 1544-1545
From Wikimedia


Famous mainly for his portraits, such as the Portrait of Eleanor of Toledo with her Son Giovanni (above), and noted particularly for the softness that illuminates his figures, Bronzino also painted biblical and mythological scenes, designed tapestries and frescos, and composed poetry.....
(Michael G. Cornelius at glbtq, Inc.)
While some of Bronzino's poetry consists of rather conventional lyric verse, as well as the sonnets upon Pontormo's death, he also wrote a considerable body of burlesque verse. Often obscene and erotic, burlesque verse circulated among Florentine intellectual and aristocratic circles, whose members would have detected obscure allusions and subtexts beneath the bawdy wordplay. Bronzino's burlesque poetry is distinguished by its large number of homoerotic references and allusions…..
(Michael G. Cornelius at glbtq, Inc.)
The son of a butcher, Agnolo di Cosimo Mariano di Tori, better known by his nickname Agnolo Bronzino, was born on November 17, 1503, in Monticelli, then a suburb of Florence. From 1515 to 1518 he was apprenticed to the painter Jacopo Pontormo, and by the early 1520s he had gained some independence as a collaborator in the elder master's workshop. The friendship and professional association between Pontormo and Bronzino, who were relatively close in age, continued for almost four decades.
Pontormo's impact on Bronzino lasted into the early 1530s, when the work of both painters demonstrates a reciprocal flow of ideas and vocabulary. Pontormo's influence on the young Bronzino's drawings is clearly evident in the frequent choice of red chalk as a medium; the attention to figure studies from life; the use of strong, broken-up outlines; and the softly blended interior modeling. Most important, Pontormo and Bronzino considered drawing to be a functional activity, done to prepare the design of final works; unlike some artists of their generation they did not produce drawings as autonomous finished works.
(The Metropolitan Museum of Art.)


Head of a Curly-Haired Child Looking Up to the Right
Black chalk, ca. 1527
Staatliche Kunstsammlungen
Kupferstich-Kabinett, Dresden
From The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Seated Nude Youth Playing Panpipes
Red chalk, ca. 1530–32
Musée du Louvre
Département des Arts Graphiques, Paris
From The Metropolitan Museum of Art


In Seated Nude Youth Playing Panpipes (above), departing from his usual procedure, Bronzino drew on both sides of this double-sided sheet holding them in an upright direction. The studies are for Marsyas and Midas, two of the main figures seated at the right in Bronzino's The Contest of Apollo and Marsyas, a subject inspired by Ovid's Metamorphoses. Bronzino made the painting, originally a harpsichord cover, in Pesaro for the Duke of Urbino. This side shows Apollo's rival, Pan, whose identity is indicated not only by the panpipes but also by the incomplete legs, which would have been represented below the knees as the limbs of a goat.
(The Metropolitan Museum of Art)


Head of Dante in Profile Facing Right and Wearing a Cap
Black chalk, 1532
Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich
From The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Even Bronzino's most Pontormesque early drawings reveal the young artist's style in the more careful articulation of contour (with few, if any, reinforcement lines) and more tightly defined modeling. Nevertheless, in some instances it is not possible to arrive at a definitive attribution to one artist or the other, given their lifelong association as well as the Renaissance workshop practice of learning by precisely copying the drawings of the teacher.
(The Metropolitan Museum of Art.)


Study for a Portrait of a Seated Man
Black chalk, ca. 1535
Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi, Florence
From The Metropolitan Museum of Art


One of the most fascinating portrait drawings of sixteenth-century Italy, this sheet (above) has been attributed to Pontormo as well as Bronzino. The latter attribution is the most convincing, as the study exhibits Bronzino's meticulous technique of drawing with careful outlines and modeling, which he brought to a polished finish. It appears to be preparatory for a portrait, as suggested by the repeated detail of the hand at the lower right, which is posed as if presenting a letter. As he did in other works, Bronzino represented the sitter in the pose he often adopted for his portraits of Florentine patricians, derived from Michelangelo's Giuliano de' Medici in the New Sacristy of S. Lorenzo.
(The Metropolitan Museum of Art.)
Even today, a proper portrait painter cannot exist without a following of wealth. His or her work is the best advertisement of his skills and clients come largely by word of mouth. Nothing has changed in five hundred years of portrait painting in this regard. Perhaps today, it doesn't take quite as much wealth to have one's portrait painted but then again, that depends upon the portrait painter. The best don't come cheap. During the Renaissance, for instance, that meant Raphaello Santi--Raphael. After his untimely death, as the Mannerist period heated up, his place as the premier portrait painter in Italy was taken up by Agnolo Bronzino.....
During the mid-1500s he found the wealth so needed by a portrait painter in Florence. He became the darling of the Medici family. Even before this, the Medici family had a long history of support for the arts, particularly sculptors. Michelangelo grew out of their womb-like benefaction, and Leonardo himself also profited from their largess though in a backhanded sort of way. Though his genius was recognised, he was considered too undependable to work for either the church or "the family," so he was sent, somewhat as a "gift," to the Sforza family in Milan where he worked for eighteen years.
(Jim Lane, Humanities Web, 4 March 1999)


Portrait of a Young Man
Oil on wood, c. 1540
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
From Web Gallery of Art


Perhaps his best work may or may not be a de'Medici. Sometimes it's known as simply Portrait of a Young Man (above) and sometimes Portrait of a Sculptor. It appears to have been done about 1535 and may well have been Bronzino's key to entry into the Medici court. In any case, it's an exquisitely elegant, yet quiet image of discreet royalty. The dark-haired young man, probably still in his teens, his features delicate, his eyes penetrating, his nose strong without appearing obtrusive, fondly embraces a small, carved Venus. Slender, dressed all in black with a high lace collar, his sensitive hands have a feminine beauty that further enhance his refined, detached quality making this portrait not only Bronzino's best but possibly the best portrait from the entire Mannerist period.
(Jim Lane, Humanities Web, 4 March 1999)
A simple portrait of the handsome youth holding two books and wearing a pinky ring, Portrait of a Young Man nevertheless possesses a charged eroticism, seen both in the loving depiction the artist has created as well as in the handsome and anonymous (uncommon in Bronzino's work) model. The books may very well represent Bronzino's own Petrarchan poems, love sonnets sometimes addressed to other men. Moreover, parts of the young man's garb, especially his ring and sash, may act as symbols suggesting his sexuality.
(Michael G. Cornelius at glbtq, Inc.)
Agnolo Bronzino painted in what has come to be known as the "High Mannerist" style. His portraits of Medici family members such as Cosimo de'Medici and Eleanora di Toledo with her son Giovanni de'Medici are coolly elegant without appearing ostentatious.
(Jim Lane, Humanities Web, 4 March 1999)


Bia Medici, Daughter of Cosimo
Tempera on panel, 1542
Galleria degli Uffizi Florence
From Wikimedia


Eleonora di Toledo
Oil on wood, 1543
National Gallery, Prague
From Web Gallery of Art


Don Giovanni de' Medici
Tempera on wood, 1545
Galleria degli Uffizi Florence
From Wikimedia



Don Garcia de' Medici
Oil on panel, 1550
Museo del Prado, Madrid
From Web Gallery of Art


Francesco I de' Medici
Tempera on wood, 1551
From Wikimedia


Maria (di Cosimo I) de' Medici
Tempera on wood, 1551
Galleria degli Uffizi Florence
From Wikimedia


Garcia de' Medici
Oil on tin, 1555-65
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
From Web Gallery of Art


Alessandro de' Medici
Oil on tin, 1555-65
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
From Web Gallery of Art


Ferdinando de' Medici
Oil on tin, 1555-65
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
From Web Gallery of Art


From 1540 onward Bronzino worked almost exclusively as court artist to Duke Cosimo I de' Medici (1519–1574) and his wife, Duchess Eleonora di Toledo (1522–1562). One of his first major commissions was to decorate the new private oratory of the duchess (the Chapel of Eleonora di Toledo) in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. He produced the frescoes on the ceiling and walls of the small chapel between 1540–41 and 1543 and the altarpiece with two side panels in 1544–45, which was replaced by a later version, painted before 1563–64.....
Following the foundation of the Medici tapestry manufactory in Florence in 1545, Bronzino worked for eight years designing tapestries for Duke Cosimo. His most important commission was the design of sixteen of a series of twenty tapestries on the Story of Joseph, woven by the Flemish weavers Jan Rost and Nicolas Karcher. They were commissioned to decorate the walls of the Sala dei Duecento of the Palazzo Vecchio, from floor to ceiling, as was the custom in Northern Europe. The theme was intended to glorify Duke Cosimo and his rule of Tuscany—the betrayal of the biblical hero Joseph by his brothers and his glorious reinstatement in Egypt became metaphors for the expulsion and return to power of the Medici family. Documents record that the finished tapestries were delivered to the Guardaroba Medici between 1546 and 1553, which provides the basis for dating the preparatory drawings.
While Bronzino's final cartoons for tapestries do not survive, all his extant preliminary studies and modelli (demonstration drawings) are displayed in the exhibition, except one in ruined condition. The drawings demonstrate that the key to his success as a tapestry designer was the inventiveness and clarity of his compositions, together with his meticulous drawing technique. The weavers could effectively work from Bronzino's designs because they were complete in all details and precisely outlined, with distinct demarcations of light and shadow.
(The Metropolitan Museum of Art.)
Bronzino's work now hangs in the world's most famous museums, including, for example, the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), and the National Gallery (London)…..
(Michael G. Cornelius at glbtq, Inc.)



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