The Portland Vase, £5.00
Height: 392.000 mm
Width: 246.000 mm (corners cut)
Acquired with the aid of the
Prints and Drawings
Agnolo Bronzino, Study of a Standing Man, a study in chalk
Florence, Italy, about AD 1550-60
Although Bronzino (1503-1572) specialized as a portrait painter, very few of his portrait drawings survive. This fine study is executed in black chalk with touches of red chalk. The identity of the man is unknown and the drawing is not connected to any existing portrait by Bronzino.
The drawing is typically Florentine, with clear outlines and precise shading. The man is dressed in fine contemporary costume including the codpiece jutting out from his groin. His left arm and right hand appear to rest on a table. The hands would have been a separate, more detailed study.
The table's decoration of a mask and garlands of fruit and flowers has been lightly sketched in. Below and to the left, overlapping the decoration of the table, is a black chalk study of a bound, male nude, whose twisting pose is inspired by Michelangelo's marble Slaves (now in the Musée du Louvre, Paris) for the tomb of Pope Julius II. This may be another suggestion for the decoration of the table leg.
The artist was court painter to Duke Cosimo I (1519-74), ruler of Florence. He painted many of Florence's nobility with an emphasis on their rich costumes and icy, aristocratic poise.
N. Turner, Florentine drawings of the six, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1986)
C.H. Smyth, Bronzino as a draughtsman (Locust Valley, Augustin, 1971)
C. McCorquodale, Bronzino (London, Jupiter Books, 1981)
J.A Gere, Portrait drawings XV-XX centur (London, The British Museum Press, 1974)
J. Rowlands, Master drawings and watercolou (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)