Master Studies: The Mannerist Angelo Bronzino

Master Studies of Angelo Bronzino

Angelo Bronzino (1503-1572), who’s real name was Agnolo di Cosimo, was a Florentine Mannerist era painter. The painters of this era were known for breaking the established rules of Renaissance Europe painting and emphasizing artifice over nature. Stylistically, his work has an intellectual sophistication and seems to emphasize compositional tension and instability (such as the way the lady in the lower right holds her book open) rather than balance as in earlier Renaissance painting. Though realistic in their rendering, his execution of Mannerist painting feels detached and unemotional, even cold. At times the expressions on his noblemen portraits (often belonging to the great Medici family) seem stoic or haughty. The arrangement, poise, and quality of rendering of all details clearly communicate the wealth and nobility of his patrons.

By creating these compositional master studies, I learned how Bronzino arranged his sitters in regal postures and the values and colors behind them to focus the viewer on the shoulders and face. I also noticed the same elements repeated, such as the scrolling curved-arm chair and narrow black book often used as props. I spent less time on each of these studies as I have with previous ones, challenging myself to capture the composition and important details and textures with less time. It provided excellent practice mimicking shape and values as well as edge control.