An image of Cosimo I de' Medici in armour

Agnolo Bronzino

(Italy 17 Nov 1503 – 23 Nov 1572)

Cosimo I de' Medici in armour

Location
15th–19th c European art
Further information

Though a sense of surface frigidity characterises everything Bronzino produced, emotional heat underwrites his style. As a pupil and adopted son of perhaps the greatest and strangest of mannerist painters, Jacopo Pontormo, Bronzino graduated to artistic maturity with impeccable credentials in that consciously artificial style. That he asserted his own artistic personality, albeit through a steely formality of technique, testifies to the originality of Bronzino's vision. In this magnificent portrait of his principal patron - a work that exists in many replicas and copies - the painter displays a perfectionism it is hard not to think obsessive. Riven with reflections, highlights and shadows, Cosimo's armour alone is an article of transfixing interest: almost reason enough for the painting. It was Bronzino's habit to concentrate on details of costume, jewellery and decoration, to the extent of conceiving the faces of his ducal sitters as polished stones. Apart from this authoritative example, another celebrated version of the work is found in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

AGNSW Handbook, 1999.

Year
circa 1545
Media
Painting
Medium
oil on poplar
Dimensions
86.0 x 67.0 cm panel; 117.5 x 98.5 x 8.0 cm frame
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Credit
Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation Purchase 1996
Accession number
78.1996
Provenance
Olsen Carr Art Dealers, Mar 1996, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, Purchased by the AGNSW from Olsen Carr Art Dealers 1996
Private Collection, pre 1996?, with Sotheby's New York, February 1993 and Simon Dickinson Ltd, London June 1995
Cyril Humphris, 26 Nov 1971-circa 1990, London/England, [dealer] Purchased at Christie's London 26 November 1971, lot no. 47. On loan to the National Gallery, London 1990
John Granville Morrison, 1931-26 Nov 1971, England, by descent, 1st Baron Margadale of Islay, sold Christie's London 26 November 1971, lot no. 47
Hugh Morrison, 1897-1931, England, by descent
Alfred Morrison, pre 1897, Hindon/Wiltshire/England, label verso records that the painting hung on the 'no.1 Drawing Room Landing' at Fonthill House on 28 December 1887
Thomas Holloway, post 11 May 1872, England, Purchased at Christie's London, 11 May 1872, lot no. 302, 'Plon-Plon and the Prince Napoleon'. Sold to Alfred Morrison.
Napoléon Bonaparte, 1860-11 May 1872, France, sold Christie's London, 11 May 1872, lot no. 302, 'Plon-Plon and the Prince Napoleon' bought by Thomas Holloway
Giorgio Orchi, 1846-1860, Italy, or De' Orchi, bequeathed to Orchi by Count Giovio
Count Paolo Giovio, 1552-1846, Italy, by descent to Count Giovio, the painting was moved in the early 17th century to the Palazzo Giovio, Como
Bishop Paulo Giovio, 1551, Italy, in the collection of Bishop Giovio by 1551