NEW YORK, NY.-
The Drawings of Bronzino, the first exhibition ever dedicated to Agnolo Bronzino (1503-1572), brings together nearly all of the 61 known drawings by, or attributed to, the great Florentine court artist of the Medici. On view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
from January 20 through April 18, 2010, the exhibition features drawings of extraordinary beauty and rarity which are seldom on public view, and draws loans from major museums and private collections within Europe and North America, including the Galleria degli Uffizi, Musée du Louvre, British Museum, Royal Library of Windsor Castle, Ashmolean Museum, Kupferstich-Kabinett Dresden, and Staatliche Museen Berlin.
Surprisingly, this great artist has never been the subject of a comprehensive exhibition, yet he is one of the most important draftsmen of the 16th century, and a leading figure among Mannerist painters in Florence. The son of a butcher, Bronzino was born in 1503 in Monticelli near Florence, and at a very young age was apprenticed in the workshop of painter Jacopo Pontormo (14941557), who had a great influence on him. A painter, draftsman, teacher, and learned poet, Bronzino became famous as the court artist to the Duke Cosimo I de' Medici and his beautiful wife, the Duchess Eleonora di Toledo. Bronzino's portrait of the Duchess and her son became one of the artist's best-known masterpieces and evidence his power in capturing the psychology of his sitters. His technical virtuosity as a painter and draftsman was highly praised by his contemporaries, and he was a much sought-after teacher, who had numerous pupils. Bronzino, however, was no less admired in the intellectual circles of his day for his accomplished poetry, which demonstrates a refined intellect and pungent vernacular wit.
The Drawings of Bronzino offers an introduction to Bronzino's celebrated oeuvre and a unique insight into his larger projects and commissions through the close examination of his drawings. Bronzino was a perfectionist, not prolific, and his surviving drawings, while exquisitely beautiful, have been little studied, as they are seldom on public view. The exhibition and accompanying catalogue explore his work as a draftsman in depth and make a substantial scholarly contribution, re-examining some of the open questions regarding his career, and more precisely defining the chronology of his works.
The display of studies in chalk as well as more painterly drawings in wash and gouache demonstrate Bronzino's brilliant command of the human figure, his inventive genius as a designer, and his gift for composition. Preparatory drawings related to important fresco cycles, altarpieces, and tapestries with rich allegorical meanings reveal the artist's literary sensibilities. Outstanding works include Head of a Smiling Woman in Three-Quarter View (cartoon fragment for Moses Striking Water from the Rock) from the Musée du Louvre, Standing Nude (study for The Crossing of the Red Sea) and Study of a Left Leg and Drapery from the Metropolitan Museum's collection, Joseph with Jacob and His Brothers (fragment of modello for the tapestry Joseph Recounting his Dream of the Sun, Moon, and Stars) from the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Study for Jealousy from the The J. Paul Getty Museum, and Head of a Curly-Haired Child Looking Up to the Right (study for the Christ Child in the Holy Family with St. Elizabeth and St. John) from Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Kupferstich-Kabinett, Dresden. Many exquisite works from the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi are featured such as Study for a Portrait of a Seated Man and Standing Nude (study for The Crossing of the Red Sea).
The Metropolitan Museum's refined and graceful painting, Portrait of a Young Man, is displayed in the last gallery of the exhibition where it is accompanied by panels detailing recent discoveries of under-drawing in the picture through infrared reflectography.