The Renaissance was largely considered an era of massive strides in human achievements, especially in art. It was in this era that the world saw the magnificent works of The Renaissance Masters such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, Raphael, etc. However, lesser-known than the High Renaissance movement itself is a smaller Renaissance-esque movement which spawned at the end of the Renaissance era, before the advent of the Baroque era. Known as the Mannerism movement, this art style emerged around 1520, in the late Renaissance era, and lasted until the end of the 16th century. Conceived as a reaction to the High Renaissance art style, the Mannerism moved away from the perfect balance and harmony revered by High Renaissance artists, preferring to exaggerate and overstate some certain qualities to create a sense of elegance and holiness. Among the most accomplished artists who adhered to the Mannerism art style is Bronzino, an Italian giant at the end of the Renaissance era.
Bronzino, real name Agnolo di Cosimo di Mariano Tori, was born on November 17th, 1503 in Florence, the city where he spent almost all his life in. Young Bronzino soon showed interest in art, and he followed two teachers separately in the days of his youth, Raffaellino del Garbo and Jacopo da Pontormo, the latter of whom had had tremendous impacts on his later art style. After finishing his education with the two masters, he went on to become a painter himself. His early artworks showed clear influence from the eccentric style adopted by da Pontormo, and one can also see brief strokes of Michelangelo and Raphael in these works. From 1523 to 1528, the student-teacher duo collaborated on several interior decoration projects. In 1530, Bronzino briefly moved to Pesaro for another interior decoration project, but then he returned to Florence in 1532.
What his teacher had failed to do, he achieved. From 1939 to the end of his life, he was the court painter to Cosimo I, the Duke of Milan. This era was the high point of his career. His position allowed him to take on several important commissions from important figures in the city, including the wedding decorations for the duke’s wedding to Eleonora of Toledo. By the 1540s, he was widely regarded as one of the most established painters in the city. His artworks in this period also reflected the most striking features of Mannerism: elegant and decorative figures with little emotions shown on the visage. His most prominent works in this period includeEleonora of Toledo with Her Son Giovanni,Portrait of a Young Girl with a Prayer Book,Moses Striking the Rock,The Gathering of Manna, andSt. John the Evangelist.
In the later stage of his life, Mannerism phased out of public favour, so Bronzino attempted to change his style to catch up with the public’s taste, as evidenced inPietà andRaising of the Daughter of Jairus. However, their success was much disputed. He died in 1572 in Florence.
Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, Basilica di San Lorenzo in Florence. by Bronzino