National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of A Young Woman and Her Little Boy Agnolo Bronzino (artist)
Florentine, 1503 - 1572
A Young Woman and Her Little Boy, c. 1540
oil on panel
overall: 99.5 x 76 cm (39 3/16 x 29 15/16 in.) framed: 134.6 x 111.1 x 6.7 cm (53 x 43 3/4 x 2 5/8 in.)
Widener Collection
1942.9.6
On View
From the Tour: Mannerism
Object 7 of 8

Bronzino changed this portrait significantly some five or six years after it was finished by adding the boy. The addition turns the portrait into a dynastic monument; the two unidentified sitters must have been highly connected to Medici circles. Other changes increase the opulence and impressive display of the portrait—and the prestige of the sitters. Some of these can be seen clearly with the naked eye, especially the sleeve enlargements, where the added pigment is darker.

The boy’s ghostly paleness—he is painted over the green background—and his compressed position reflect the painting’s history as much as they do the artist’s decisions. What is typically mannerist, however, is the sitters’ reserved elegance and, for Bronzino, their cold hardness. The woman appears invulnerable behind her detachment. In the cruel intrigues of the Medici court, this was a useful, perhaps even necessary, protection.

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