Monday, August 16, 2010

Portrait of a Young Man

My online museum travels led me to another old-time favorite. "Portrait of a Young Man" by Bronzino. ( also known as Agnolo di Cosimo di Mariano) Painted in the 1530s I find this an arresting portrait. It has always stopped me in my tracks and forced me to take a second, third and fourth look.

Branzino's portrait figures are often read as static, elegant, and stylish exemplars of unemotional haughtiness and assurance. I can think of no greater example of his work than this portrait. The way this man carries himself, his intense and yet disinterested gaze... they entice me to look further. There is also the interesting fact that no one seems to know who this young man is. There is much speculation, but no definitive proof. He has been painted with a book in his hand. Was he a scholar? Perhaps a poet? (Bronzino himself was a poet so it would make sense that he would be around other poets) I love making up a story for this unknown man. Why is he looking at me in that way? What makes him feel as if I am beneath him? Or not worthy of his interest?

Even more interesting are the odd faces within the furniture in this piece. They are described by the Metropolitan Museum as being rather grotesque in nature. They also state (though it's difficult to see this online) that there is a  third "mask"  suggested in an insistent pattern resembling a face within the drapery of the lower part of the costume.Why had he taken such care to include these faces within this painting? They are painted with almost as much care as the sitter himself. I could go on and on about this painting. It fascinates me so much. There is also extensive discussion on the Met's website about the discoveries made from some X-radiographs that were taken of this painting. The various changes that this painting went through and the fact that they believe this painting to have been started perhaps many years before it was actually finished. 

I love amusing myself by pretending someone, years in the future, has done some x-radiographs of MY artwork. Some of my pieces were painted over entirely different paintings. Some of my pieces were started and not finished until years later or were changed drastically over the course of their creation. What theories would they devise from their findings?


  1. Hello. Thanks for dropping by my blog. I have enjoyed reading through yours. I will be back. Warmly, Karen

  2. rebecca,

    your blog gives interesting and inspiring information for those who love art...

  3. Thank you both so much for your encouraging comments! I will try my hardest to keep this blog interesting and inspiring for you. :)