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Monday, December 24, 2012

Bronzino, Agnolo


Madonna and Child with Saint John Baptist as child and Saint Elizabeth
1540
oil on wood
101.6 x 81.3 cm
The National Gallery, London, UK

The picture was painted perhaps for an acquaintance of Bronino's at the court of Cosimo De' Medici in Florence.
The Christ Child removes a garland from his head and grasps the reed cross from the infant Saint John the Baptist who wears his camel skin cloak and carries a baptismal bowl. The female saint might be Saint Elizabeth. The reed cross foreshadows Christ's Passion, while the wild strawberries offered to Christ by Saint John may be interpreted as referring to the fruitful and righteous life of Christ.

Agnolo di Cosimo, usually known as Il Bronzino, or Agnolo Bronzino (1503 - 1572) was an Italian Mannerist painter from Florence, the son of a butcher. His sobriquet, Bronzino, in all probability refers to his relatively dark skin.

Bronzino was the outstanding artist of the Tuscan High Mannerist style. He was a court painter to Duke Cosimo I de Medici for most of his career. He produced large numbers of portraits as well as religious pictures and his work influenced the course of European court portraiture for a century.
His style is cold, refined, aristocratic, and technically brilliant in its rendering of surface details and colors. His portraits, while highly stylized in their long lines and elegant poses, achieve a formalized stillness that is the ultimate refinement of Mannerism's usually hectic quality. He was less successful as a religious painter, his lack of real feeling leading to empty, elegant posturing in which almost every one of the extraordinarily contorted poses can be traced back to Raphael or to Michelangelo, whom Bronzino idolized.
He was a much respected figure who took a prominent part in the activities of the Accademia del Disegno, of which he was a founder member in 1563. His influence on later portraiture extended to the 19th-century French master J. A. D. Ingres. Bronzino was also a poet.
http://www.imaginarymuseum.net/view/flipcard