Since I started to revisit the Bronzino exhibition a few weeks back I thought I’d continue. I particularly enjoyed the symbolism that he used in his portraits – something perhaps lost on us today but that spoke volumes to the original viewers. And of course the dogs – he could have made a fortune today just doing portraits of people’s dogs.
Oops… March 7 is actually Crown Roast of Pork Day and yesterday was Dentist’s Day. But since I spent two hours in the Dentist’s chair today I’ll simply switch the two. I mean who really knew, right?
In his portraits of the rich and ruling, Bronzino would include props that indicated the various virtues and achievements of his sitters. Take as an example the dog in this painting of Guidobaldo II della Rovere, the first official portrait painted by the Florentine artist in 1530-32 during his stay in Pesaro. No doubt the dog was a favourite of young nobleman but he is also a symbol of his station in life. The animal would reflect his noble origins, hunting being the pastime of aristocrats. And notice how he draws our attention to two things very subtly: Guidobaldo’s hands lead our eyes to the helmet, indicating his military position and to his faithful companion, his hunting dog – there is no doubting his caste. The purpose of the large codpiece was not necessarily to suggest an actual physical feature of the 18 year old heir to the Duchy…
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