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

Deposition of Christ

1540-45
Oil on panel, 268 x 173 cm
Musée des Beaux-Arts et d'Archéologie, Besançon

This portrayal of the Deposition, although it depicts all the characters typically shown when Jesus is being taken down from the cross, more correctly should be characterized as a Lamentation and is an excellent example of late Mannerism or Maniera.

The painting was originally commissioned to be the altarpiece for the chapel of Eleonora of Toledo in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. Shortly after it was completed in 1545, Eleonora's husband, Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici, shipped the picture to Nicolas Perrenot de Granvelle, a chief counselor of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, as a diplomatic gift. Granvelle installed it in his private chapel in Besançon. In 1834 it became a part of the collection of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Besançon. After sending the original to Granvelle in 1545, Cosimo requested a copy for Eleonora's chapel that Bronzino painted eight years later in 1553. The second version is the one found in the Palazzo Vecchio today.

To accompany the original altarpiece, Bronzino painted side panels depicting John the Baptist (the patron saint of Florence) on the left and St Cosmas (a patron saint of the Medici family and Cosimo's name-saint) on the right. At some point between 1545 and 1553, Eleonora requested that Bronzino replace the side panels of the saints with more pious panels depicting the Annunciation. These Annunciation panels can be viewed in Eleonora's chapel today.

The original side panels of the saints were considered lost until the John the Baptist panel resurfaced in 1951. It is now housed in the Getty Center. A fragment of the St Cosmas panel was only recently rediscovered in a private collection.

The picture shows the original version of the painting.