Monday, 1 February 2010

M/M The Drawings of Bronzino at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Image: Agnolo Bronzino (Agnolo di Cosimo di Mariano Tori) (Monticelli, 1503–1572 Florence) Head of a Smiling Young Woman in Three-Quarter View (cartoon fragment for Moses Striking Water from the Rock) ca. 1542-43. Charcoal and black chalk (with stumping), highlighted with white chalk, on off-white paper; some outlines stylus-incised Musée du Louvre, Département des Arts Graphiques, provided to Manner of Man by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. All rights reserved.

Exhibition Dates: January 20–April 18, 2010

Exhibition Location: Galleries for Drawings, Prints, and Photographs

The Drawings of Bronzino, the first exhibition ever dedicated to Agnolo Bronzino (1503-1572), will bring 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 will feature drawings of extraordinary beauty and rarity which are seldom on public view, and will draw 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 is 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.

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. 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 bestknown 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 will offer 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 will 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 will 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 will reveal the artist’s literary sensibilities. The exhibition will showcase an exceedingly rare loan from the Biblioteca Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan of a drawing for one of the earliest tapestries to come out of the Medici manufactory called Justice Liberating Innocence. This fragile work, which has been on public view only once before, evidences Bronzino’s clear manner of depicting complex compositions, in which literary sensibility is displayed with subtlety and great aesthetic interest.

The Metropolitan Museum’s refined and graceful painting, Portrait of a Young Man, will be displayed in the last gallery of the exhibition where it will be 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 will be 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 will be published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press.
The catalogue is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Educational programs accompanying the exhibition include 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 exhibition will also be featured on the Museum’s website at