Pontormo, Bronzino, and the Medici
The Transformation of the Renaissance Portrait in Florence
Carl Brandon Strehlke
with essays by Elizabeth Cropper and Mark S. Tucker, Irma Passeri, Ken Sutherland, and Beth A. Price
76 color, 70 black-and-white illustrations
This book accompanies an exhibition of the same name held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art upon the completion of conservation of Pontormo’s famous portrait of Duke Alessandro de’ Medici. Centering on Pontormo’s painting and Agnolo Bronzino’s equally renowned depiction of another Medici duke, Cosimo I, the exhibition gathers from American and European collections some fifty sixteenth-century works that explore the ways in which these artists changed the Renaissance portrait during this tumultuous period in Florence’s history.
The two Philadelphia portraits offer fascinating private views of important rulers of Florence. In his painting of Alessandro, Pontormo depicts the duke in the act of making a drawing, an activity prized both as part of the humanist culture of aristocratic Italians and as the basis of the art of the Florentine masters. Bronzino’s portrait of Cosimo I in the guise of Orpheus, the great poet and musician of Greek mythology, is an allegorical commentary on the young duke who was to become a major patron of the arts in Florence. In his catalogue entries, Carl Brandon Strehlke surveys the history and multifaceted significance of the Medici portraits and other paintings, drawings, coins, medals, books, and prints in the exhibition, offering a wealth of insights into these works and the Florentine men and women they portray.
This fully illustrated volume also features Elizabeth Cropper’s thought-provoking “Pontormo and Bronzino in Philadelphia: A Double Portrait,” which explores the rich cultural and artistic background of these artists’ portraiture. An essay by Mark S. Tucker, Irma Passeri, Ken Sutherland, and Beth A. Price discusses findings from the recent conservation of Pontormo’s portrait of Alessandro. A genealogy of the Medici family, a glossary, and a bibliography complete this publication.