Ritratto di giovane uomo (1530s)

Bronzino (1503-1572)

Ritratto di giovane uomo (Portrait of a Young Man)
Oil on wood, 95.6 x 74.9 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The identity of this arrogant young man is unknown, but he must have belonged to Bronzino’s close circle of literary friends in Florence and probably holds a book of poetry. The artist was himself a poet, delighting as much in the beauty of language as he did in the witty and fanciful details of his paintings. Here, Bronzino employs the ancient Roman tradition of fantastical decorations known as grotesques in his rendering of heads on the table and chair, and the almost hidden, masklike face suggested in the folds of the youth’s breeches. While these monstrous faces contrast with the youth’s handsome looks, they may also imply that his carefully crafted appearance is similarly a kind of mask. (MET)