Exhibition Devoted to Agnolo Bronzino at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

. January 23, 2010 . 0 Comments

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.

The exhibition was organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in collaboration with the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi and the Polo Museale Fiorentino, Florence.

The exhibition is made possible by the Gail and Parker Gilbert Fund.

Additional support is provided by Dinah Seiver and Thomas E. Foster.

The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanties.

Agnolo-BronzinoSurprisingly, 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 (1494–1557), 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.

The exhibition is organized at the Metropolitan Museum by Carmen C. Bambach, Curator in the Department of Drawings and Prints, Janet Cox-Rearick, and George R. Goldner, Drue Heinz Chairman of the Museum’s Department of Drawings and Prints.

The Drawings of Bronzino is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, authored by Carmen C. Bambach, Janet Cox-Rearick, and George R. Goldner, with essays by Marzia Faietti, Elizabeth Pilliod, and Philippe Costamagna. It is published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press and is for sale in the Museum’s bookshops (hardcover, $60.00).

The catalogue is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Educational programs accompanying the exhibition include a lecture by Carmen C. Bambach on April 9; a Sunday at the Met program on March 28 with lectures by James Fenton, Elizabeth Cropper, Deborah Parker, and Louis A. Waldman; film screenings; gallery talks; and family programs.

This Sunday at the Met is made possible in part by the Italian Cultural Institute of New York.

The Antioch Chamber Ensemble will present a concert of music by Monteverdi and the world premiere of “Of Art and Onions: Homage to Bronzino” by American composer Bruce Adolphe in conjunction with the exhibition on Saturday, March 6, at 7 p.m. in the Metropolitan Museum’s Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium. Mr. Adolphe’s contemporary Mannerist piece for chamber orchestra and soloists was inspired by the paintings and poetry of Bronzino. It is a co-production of the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation and The Learning Maestros.

The Palazzo Strozzi in Florence will present the exhibition Bronzino, Artist and Poet, the first ever devoted to the artist’s paintings, from September 24, 2010, through January 23, 2011.

An audio tour, part of the Museum’s Audio Guide Program, is available for rental ($7, $6 for Members, $5 for children under 12).

The Audio Guide is sponsored by Bloomberg.

A ten-minute podcast episode narrated by Carmen C. Bambach on the life and work of Bronzino is available for free download in the Met Podcast series at www.metmuseum.org/podcast.

The exhibition is also featured on the Museum’s website at www.metmuseum.org

Image: Agnolo Bronzino, “Head of a Smiling Young Woman in Three-Quarter View”, ca. 1542-43. Charcoal and black chalk (with stumping), highlighted with white chalk, on of white paper; some outlines stylus-incised. Musée du Louvre, Département des Arts Graphiques

Category: Museum News

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