Artist: Bronzino (Agnolo di Cosimo di Mariano) (Italian, Monticelli 1503–1572 Florence)
Date: ca. 1550
Medium: Black chalk
Dimensions: 15 3/8 x 10 in. (39.1 x 25.4 cm)
Credit Line: Promised Gift of David M. Tobey, and Purchase, several members of The Chairman's Council Gifts and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 2006
Accession Number: 2006.449
A recent discovery, this magnificent study dates from the late 1540s, the moment in Agnolo Bronzino's career when he was most inspired by the delicate precision of mark in the presentation drawings Michelangelo first produced in the 1530s. It is thus not surprising that in about 1600 a collector mistook this drawing for a work by Michelangelo and wrote "di michel angelo/ buonaroti" at the upper right. In his drawings in black chalk of 1540–50, Bronzino used pristine crosshatching in the modeling; a decade later, he would abandon such precision in favor of a broader, impressionistic application of the chalk. The leg in this study resembles the leg of Joseph in the tapestry Joseph Flees from Potiphar's Wife in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence (ca. 1548–49), and the leg of Christ in the Resurrection altarpiece in Santissima Annunziata, Florence (1552), masterpieces of Bronzino's maturity, when his star shone most brightly with his patrons, Duke Cosimo I de' Medici and his wife Eleonora di Toledo.
The younger generations of Florentine Mannerist artists admired Bronzino for his technical virtuosity, and Giorgio Vasari praised him for his powers as a disegnatore (designer and draftsman). Drawings by Bronzino are extremely rare; fewer than fifty examples can be securely attributed to him.