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Pontormo, Bronzino, and the Medici: The Transformation of the Renaissance Portrait in Florence

November 20, 2004–February 13, 2005

This exhibition focuses on two portraits from the museum's collection by the great sixteenth-century Florentine masters Pontormo and Bronzino, depicting the Dukes Alessandro and Cosimo I de' Medici. Bronzino's portrait of Cosimo I shows the duke in the guise of Orpheus and is generally thought to be an allegorical commentary on his marriage. Pontormo's portrait of Alessandro in the John G. Johnson Collection depicts the duke in the unusual task of making a metalpoint drawing, demonstrating not only the importance of drawing as a cultivated activity for upper-class Florentines, but also the status it was given in the hierarchy of the arts. Thus the portrait of Alessandro celebrates not just the duke's own abilities as a draftsman, but drawing itself as a humanist activity and the basis of all art. Celebrating the completion of a delicate year-long restoration and technical study of the Pontormo portrait, this exhibition addresses the art of portraiture, its public and private nature, and the elevation of drawing in Florentine art through a careful selection of panel paintings and drawings from both American and European collections as well as a few particularly appropriate coins, medals, and prints. The exhibition includes some forty works and is enriched by a group of drawings from the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi (the Drawing and Print Room of the Uffizi) in Florence, which holds the greatest cache of drawings by Pontormo and Bronzino.

Main Building


This exhibition was made possible by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities and by a grant from the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative, a program funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by The University of the Arts. It was also generously supported by a grant from The Samuel H. Kress Foundation; by the Robert Montgomery Scott Endowment and the Kathleen C. and John J. F. Sherrerd Endowment for Exhibitions; and by gifts from Barbara and Theodore Aronson in honor of Doris S. Berger, from the J. J. Medveckis Foundation, from Martha J. McGeary Snider, from Felecia and Jeffrey Weiss, and from Doris S. Berger in honor of Carl Brandon Strehlke. Conservation assistance was provided by Save Venice Inc.


Carl Strehlke, Adjunct Curator of the John G. Johnson Collection

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