This elegant woman is depicted in an austere architectural setting typical of Florence in the mid-sixteenth century. Michele Tosini (1503–1577), who was active there during the decades when Bronzino was at his most influential, may have painted her. Tosini was also engaged in painting members of the court of Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici.
private collection, Florence (until about 1847; sold to Grosvenor); Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Marquess of Westminster (about 1847–d. 1869); Hugh Lupus Grosvenor, 3rd Marquess of Westminster, later 1st Duke of Westminster (from 1869?); his sister, Lady Theodora Guest, Inwood House, Templecombe, Somerset; [R. Langton Douglas, London, until 1917; sold to Kleinberger]; [Kleinberger, New York, 1917, as by Bronzino; sold to Friedsam]; Michael Friedsam, New York (1917–d. 1931)
New York. F. Kleinberger Galleries. "Italian Primitives," November 12–30, 1917, no. 39 (as "Portrait of Maria di Cosimo de' Medici," by Bronzino, lent by Michael Friedsam).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Michael Friedsam Collection," November 15, 1932–April 9, 1933, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Florentine Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum," June 15–August 15, 1971, no catalogue.
Bernard Berenson in The Michael Friedsam Collection. [completed 1928], pp. 90–92, attributes this portrait to Salviati; rejects the identification of the sitter as Maria di Cosimo, and considers the costume Venetian of about 1550.
Arthur McComb. Agnolo Bronzino, His Life and Works. Cambridge, Mass., 1928, pp. 115–16, calls it a portrait of Maria di Cosimo de' Medici, rejects the attribution to Bronzino, and suggests ascribing it to Salviati, dating it 1554–57.
Bryson Burroughs and Harry B. Wehle. "The Michael Friedsam Collection: Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27, section 2 (November 1932), p. 40, no. 68, attribute it to Salviati; note that the portrait was once labeled "Maria di Cosimo de' Medici" and attributed to Bronzino, but doubt either to be the case; observe the "extreme elegance" and artificiality of pose that are typical of Florentine portraits of the mid-sixteenth century.
Hermann Voss. Letter. December 1935, observes its similarity to the style of Salviati, but suggests attributing it to Michele Ghirlandaio or Francesco Brina.
Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, p. 70, ill., dates it about 1550, based on the costume; notes that it was formerly attributed to Salviati but observes that it lacks similarities with his style.
Irene Kühnel-Kunze. "Zur Bildniskunst der Sofonisba und Lucia Anguisciola." Pantheon 20 (March–April 1962), pp. 92–93, 95–96 n. 25, fig. 16, attributes it to Lucia Anguissola, comparing it with her "Portrait of Three Children of the Gaddi Family" in the collection of Lord Methuen at Corsham Court.
Iris Hofmeister Cheney. "Francesco Salviati (1510–1563)." PhD diss., New York University, 1963, vol. 2, pp. 489–90; vol. 3, fig. 417, lists this portrait among the works probably not by Salviati; believes Voss's [Ref. 1935] and Longhi's [Ref. 1937] attribution to Michele di Ridolfo and Brina to be the most accurate thus far.
Peter Cannon Brookes. "The Portraits of Maso da San Friano." Burlington Magazine 108 (November 1966), pp. 564, 567, fig. 27, attributes this portrait to Maso da San Friano, citing the hard, dry quality of the paint that is close to the handling found in his large altarpieces.
Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Florentine School. New York, 1971, pp. 209–10, ill., attribute it to an unknown Florentine painter from the mid-sixteenth century.
David McTavish. Letter to Katharine Baetjer. December 20, 1984, attributes it to Giorgio Vasari.
Elizabeth Pilliod. Letter to Keith Christiansen. August 29, 1994, rejects an attribution to Francesco Brina; observes that the chair and architecture in the background both are typical of the late 1540s and 1550s and appear in portraits by Bronzino and Pontormo; suggests that it might be an early work by Michele di Ridolfo Ghirlandaio (alias Tosini).
Alessandro Cecchi. Letter to Andrea Bayer. October 23, 2000, mentions that he will publish it as a work by Jacopo Zucchi the Younger.
This portrait has been variously ascribed to Bronzino, Salviati, and other Florentine painters of the sixteenth century. The sitter was once believed to be Maria di Cosimo de' Medici, but that identification has now been rejected.