(b. 1503, Firenze, d. 1572, Firenze)

Portrait of a Young Man

Oil on wood, 96 x 75 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Bronzino achieved his greatest distinction in these years as a portrait painter, and by the early 1540s he had become the leading exponent in Florence. The Portrait of a Young Man is one of Bronzino's greatest portraits. The self-possessed aloofness of the sitter and the austere elegance of the Palace interior are hallmarks of the courtly style of portraiture he created for Medicean Florence. Although the sitter cannot be identified, he is likely a member of Bronzino's close circle of literary friends. The book held by the sitter in the portrait, the fanciful table and chair, with their grotesque decorations, introduce intentionally witty and capricious motifs: visual analogues to the sorts of literary conceits enjoyed by this cultivated society.

For this painting Bronzino used Pontormo's very influential composition of the portrait of Francesco Guardi as a halberdier.