Wallflower Dispatches

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it’s just a book…”Bronzino” by Maurice Brock

September 10th, 2009 · No Comments · Art, Coffee Table Books, It's just a Book

Long before the invention of photography high society had to rely on talented artists to preserve and promote their image for prosterity.

In 16th Century Florence, this role fell to Agnolo Bronzino a painter that was one of the respresentatives of the the Florentine School of Mannerism

He became the court painter of Duke Cosimo I de Medici, the powerful monarch who was ultimately responsible of destroying many of the democractic principles of the successful republic city state, Florence.

Cosimo spent much of his energy in promoting the role and power of the Dukedom using some of the greatest artists at hand, redesiging the Piazza della Signora into the Piazza Ducale.


Enjoying Bronzino’s paintings in this light, it is tempting to just admire the surface that presents itself.

But look closely and the viewer can perceive the artist’s subtle commentary on these strangely non-emotional, impassive, lifeless props. As one research paper put it: “In fact, the visual complexity and ambiguity that is characteristic of mannerist works could have distinct political advantages. The potential to invest the imagery with multiple meanings could allow the artist to dissimulate and disguise his intent and thus shift the burden of articulating potentially subversive meaning onto the beholder.”

Bronzino, the political agitator or Bronzino, the court propagandist – Brock’s book is a comprehensive collection of most of the painter’s works. In the absence of a Bronzino exhibition that would unite all these great paintings from around the world in one building, this is as good as it gets.


Anonymous painting of Agnolo Bronzino
“Portrait of Portrait of a Young Man” also “Portrait of the Sculptor Pierino da Vinci”, National Gallery London
“Portrait of Laura Battiferri” Gli Uffizzi Florence



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