Cosimo I de' Medici in armour

Bronzinocirca 1545

Art Gallery of New South Wales

Art Gallery of New South Wales
Sydney, Australia

Though a sense of surface frigidity characterises everything Bronzino produced, emotional heat underwrites his style. As a pupil and adopted son of perhaps the greatest and strangest of mannerist painters, Jacopo Pontormo, Bronzino graduated to artistic maturity with impeccable credentials in that consciously artificial style. That he asserted his own artistic personality, albeit through a steely formality of technique, testifies to the originality of Bronzino's vision. In this magnificent portrait of his principal patron - a work that exists in many replicas and copies - the painter displays a perfectionism it is hard not to think obsessive. Riven with reflections, highlights and shadows, Cosimo's armour alone is an article of transfixing interest: almost reason enough for the painting. It was Bronzino's habit to concentrate on details of costume, jewellery and decoration, to the extent of conceiving the faces of his ducal sitters as polished stones. Apart from this authoritative example, another celebrated version of the work is found in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

AGNSW Handbook, 1999.


  • Title: Cosimo I de' Medici in armour
  • Creator: Agnolo Bronzino
  • Date Created: circa 1545
  • Physical Dimensions: 86.0 x 67.0 cm panel; 117.5 x 98.5 x 8.0 cm frame
  • Provenance: Bishop Paulo Giovio, 1551, Italy, in the collection of Bishop Giovio by 1551 Count Paolo Giovio, 1552-1846, Italy, by descent to Count Giovio, the painting was moved in the early 17th century to the Palazzo Giovio, Como Giorgio Orchi, 1846-1860, Italy, or De' Orchi, bequeathed to Orchi by Count Giovio Napoléon Bonaparte, 1860-11 May 1872, France, sold Christie's London, 11 May 1872, lot no. 302, 'Plon-Plon and the Prince Napoleon' bought by Thomas Holloway Thomas Holloway, post 11 May 1872, England, Purchased at Christie's London, 11 May 1872, lot no. 302, 'Plon-Plon and the Prince Napoleon'. Sold to Alfred Morrison. Alfred Morrison, pre 1897, Hindon/Wiltshire/England, label verso records that the painting hung on the 'no.1 Drawing Room Landing' at Fonthill House on 28 December 1887 Hugh Morrison, 1897-1931, England, by descent John Granville Morrison, 1931-26 Nov 1971, England, by descent, 1st Baron Margadale of Islay, sold Christie's London 26 November 1971, lot no. 47 Cyril Humphris, 26 Nov 1971-circa 1990, London/England, [dealer] Purchased at Christie's London 26 November 1971, lot no. 47. On loan to the National Gallery, London 1990 Private Collection, pre 1996?, with Sotheby's New York, February 1993 and Simon Dickinson Ltd, London June 1995 Olsen Carr Art Dealers, Mar 1996, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, Purchased by the AGNSW from Olsen Carr Art Dealers 1996
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation Purchase 1996
  • Medium: oil on poplar
  • Signature & Date: Not signed. Not dated.
  • Artist Country: Italy

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps