Agnolo Bronzino, "Eleonora di Toledo", 1543, Oil on wood, 59 x 46 cm, Národní Galerie, Prague.
Agnolo Bronzino (1503–1572) became the leading artist working in the Mannerist style in 16th century Florence and was court painter to Cosimo I de' Medici, grand duke of Tuscany. Ducal patronage played an important part in Bronzino's career. His official portraits of Cosimo I and his court, demonstrate extraordinary technical skill and convey an atmosphere of aristocratic dignity. Typical of Bronzino are the extremely refined execution and graceful silhouette in his portraits. The high maniera developed by Florentine painters, like Brinzino, is marked by an appreciation for intellectual complexity, mythological references and complicated allegories. Other characteristics common to many Mannerist works include distortion of the human figure, a flattening of pictorial space, and a cultivated intellectual sophistication. Daughter of viceroy of Naples Don Pedro di Toledo, Eleonora married Cosimo I in 1539. This portrait of Eleonora was painted soon after their wedding. She is wearing a luxurious dress, in which she probably entered Florence for the first time after the wedding. Her right hand is adorned with two rings: the large diamond was presented to her by Cosimo at the wedding, the small seal ring is provided with her personal impress. The intense blue of the background and the stateliness of the figure enhance the preciousness of Eleonora's dress, while her aristocratic beauty betrays a sense of melancholy.
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