Seated Male Nude (Study for the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence)
Bronzino (Agnolo di Cosimo di Mariano) (Italian, Monticelli 1503–1572 Florence)
Black chalk, glued onto secondary support
maximum sheet: 13 x 18 3/16 in. (33 x 46.2 cm), corners cropped.
Promised Gift of Leon D. and Debra R. Black, and Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2005
Not on view
This powerful life study was preparatory for the figure of a seated River God, at lower right, in one of Bronzino’s most historically significant paintings, the very large fresco of the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence in the church of San Lorenzo, Florence. The study is an extremely rare work, since there exist only 60-65 drawings by Bronzino. The elderly artist received the commission of the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence from Duke Cosimo de' Medici in 1565, and the finished monumental fresco was unveiled in 1569. The male nude figure is shown here in a complex, seated pose that is meant to show off the artist's great mastery of drawing technique, human anatomy, and perspective. The interior modeling is achieved with seamlessly blended strokes, while the outlines maintain an impressive vigor of stroke and tonal inflection. The head and foreshortened facial features, in particular, are very boldly drawn, almost incisively so with the stick of black chalk, in order to sharpen and clarify the design for a far viewing distance. The compressed pose of the figure is precisely pinned down to align vertically the head, left shoulder, and left knee, and this creates a stark foreshortening of the limbs. In this, Bronzino's work of the 1560s constitutes a response and a challenge to the mature style of Michelangelo (who died in 1564). In turn, Bronzino's technical virtuosity as a draftsman and his superb mastery of his materials made him the greatest role model for the following generation of Florentine Mannerist artists. (Carmen C. Bambach, 2010, revised 2014)
Inscription: Annotated on recto, at lower right, in graphite script, by a late 19th or 20th century collector, "Angelo Bronzino"
sale, Christie's, London, December 9, 1975, no. 16, pl. 8; John Steiner and Alice F. Steiner (American); Steiner Family Collection by descent; Katrin Bellinger Kunsthandel, Munich; Vendor: Katrin Bellinger Kunsthandel , Munich Donor: Partial promised gift of Leon D. and Debra R. Black, New York
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Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown. "Renaissance and Baroque Drawings from the Collections of John and Alice Steiner," February 7, 1978–March 20, 1978.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," January 9, 2006–April 6, 2006.
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The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Drawings of Bronzino," January 19, 2010–April 18, 2010.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paper Chase: Two Decades of Collecting Drawings and Prints," December 9, 2014–March 16, 2015.
Renaissance and Baroque Drawings from the Collections of John and Alice Steiner. Exh. cat. Edited by Konrad Oberhuber, Fogg Museum, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1977, pp. 29-31, no. 3 (entry by Charles R. Saumarez-Smith).
Edward J. Olszewski, Jane Glaubinger The Draftsman's Eye: Late Italian Renaissance Schools and Styles. Exh. cat., Cleveland Museum of Art. March 6 - April 22, 1979. Cleveland, 1981, pp. 34-35, no. 10.
Alfred Moir Old Master Drawings from the Collection of John and Alice Steiner. Exh. cat. Santa Barbara Museum of Art. 1986, pp. 32-33, no. 8 (entry by Robin Thorne Ptacek and Alfred Moir).
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