Agnolo di Cosimo (Il Bronzino)
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Bronzino was born in Florence in 1503. He started his studies in Raffaellino del Garbo’s workshop and then with Pontormo, who influenced a lot his artistic style.
His first major works were portraits commissioned by high-profile clients. In 1533 he painted the Duke of Urbino Guidobaldo, then Bartolomeo and Lucrezia Panciatichi and Ugolino Martelli, all between 1533 and 1540. In these works he already showed a great ability to depict faces, clothes, jewelry and precious accessories with minimal details. He used very light and cool colors that tend to freeze the image, which was typical for Bronzino. He enriched his style by studying Michelangelo’s works, creating more sculptural figures with simplified forms.
In 1540 he entered the court of Cosimo de’ Medici who had just become the Grand Duke of Tuscany a year before. He portrayed Cosimo and his wife Eleanor of Toledo with their children and other members of the family. Most of the paintings were small and they were for Cosimo’s studio in Palazzo Vecchio, which was designed by Giorgio Vasari. In Palazzo Vecchio he also painted Eleanor of Toledo’s chapel with the stories of Moses and the apotheosis of St. Francis, St. Jerome, St. John and the archangel Michael (1545-1564).
Bronzino was sent to work in Pisa by Cosimo, where he painted the portrait of Luca Martini (Florence, Palatina Gallery) and a panel for the Pisa cathedral. When he returned to Florence he completed the frescoes of Pontormo in the Basilica of San Lorenzo. In 1563 he was one of the founders of Accademia del Disegno, an artistic association created by Cosimo and Vasari, who was taking care of the rights of the artists and the artistic heritage. Bronzino continued to work for the Medici family but he wasn’t just a painter, he was also writer and a poet. He loved Petrarch, who was very popular at the time, and wrote many sonnets, like those for beautiful Laura Battiferri, Bartolomeo Ammannati’s wife, who had a passion for literature. Bronzino also wrote humoristic letters and he became a member of the Crusca Academy.
He died in 1563.