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

Holy Family

c. 1540
Oil on wood, 117 x 93 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

This work, Vasari informs us, was executed on the commission of Bartolomeo Panciatichi and this is confirmed by the family coat-of-arms which can be seen on a high tower forming part of the background landscape.

The painting has a structure which is dynamic, abstract, yet at the same time frozen by sharp outlines, typical of Bronzino. Everything is harmoniously arranged in a great compositional balance, albeit of considerable complexity. In the foreground the group of the Virgin and St Joseph is built up with revolving movements, which are restrained below by the extremely smooth bodies of the two children. The delicate face of the Madonna, her almost chiseled hair, and the pose and form of her hands, closely resemble elements in Bronzino's famous portrait of Lucrezia Panciatichi.

The grandiose and tormented plasticity of Michelangelo is here interpreted, by means of the smooth polish of the planes under a motionless, marble light, in pseudo-classic taste.