Artibus et Historiae no. 54 (XXVII)

2006, ISSN 0391-9064

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ELIZABETH PILLIOD - Method and Practice in Bronzino's Drawing Modes: From Study to Modello

At present, a coherent picture of the development of Bronzino's style and practice in his drawings is lacking. Despite the pioneering work on the connoisseurship of Bronzino drawings by Craig Hugh Smyth, and important contributions on specific drawings by other scholars, contemporary scholarship tends to limit its efforts to connecting drawings to known commissions and recognizing Bronzino's hand only in a certain decisive, smooth, elongated sweep of line, and the creation of solid marmoreal forms. However, many of Bronzino's accepted drawings exhibit other stylistic characteristics, which because they deviate from this formula, tend to be elided in other published accounts. The significance of these stylistic markers has not been fully appreciated in the literature, in part, because they do not easily conform to notions of an artist's "early", "mature", or "late" periods. Instead, throughout his career, Bronzino appears to have drawn in several different manners, or "modes", depending on the type of drawing he was making. In this article it is suggested that the unusual stylistic characteristics of some of Bronzino's drawings may be directly related to the "mode" of the drawing he was preparing. By approaching in this manner the problem of Bronzino's draftsmanship as he moves from study to modello, it can be shown that the place of the drawing in the sequence of his creative process had an impact on the graphic style Bronzino used. A description of the drawing stages through which Bronzino developed his ideas reveals that he worked through an elaborate process. Some new proposals for Bronzino's authorship are included.

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