(b. 1503, Firenze, d. 1572, Firenze)
Portrait of Stefano IV Colonna1546
Oil on panel, 125 x 95 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome
The painting is signed and dated on the base of the column, where the inscription reads, "STE. COUMNA II. IL BRO(N)ZI(NO) FLO. FAC. MDXLUI". The date of 1546 would lead one to place the painting at the period of Bronzino's Roman sojourn. Likewise, the influences of Sebastiano del Piombo and Michelangelo, evident in this portrait, point to Rome. Nevertheless, the prototype for the portrait type of the military commander can be found in Titian's portrait of Guidubaldo della Rovere in the Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti) in Florence. Bronzino's Colonna assumes the same pose as the sitter in the 1530 della Rovere portrait. The hypothesis that Bronzino executed the painting in Florence was confirmed as fact in 1981.
Colonna, though a Roman, served Duke Cosimo I de' Medici as lieutenant general of the Tuscan army. He was, moreover, a member (as was Bronzino himself) of the Florentine Academy. Colonna died in Pisa in March of 1548, and on the twentieth of that month he received the tribute of an honorary funeral in the church of San Lorenzo in Florence. The written accounts of this ceremony record that a portrait of the deceased was present: it must have been the one executed by Bronzino. The beautiful frame carries carved symbols that pertain to the art of war and allude to the sitter's qualities as a military commander.