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

Vault decoration

c. 1541
Fresco
Cappella di Eleonora, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

Bronzino's first commission from the Duke was the decoration of a chapel for Duchess Eleonora (the Cappella di Eleonora), which is the major painted decorative ensemble of his career (1540–45). The vault of the chapel is frescoed with St Michael, St John the Evangelist, St Jerome and St Francis; on the walls are frescoes of stories of Moses (the Brazen Serpent, Moses Striking the Rock and the Gathering of Manna and the Crossing of the Red Sea and Moses Appointing Joshua). There Bronzino embraced an idealizing sculptural style suggesting the influence of the Antique and Michelangelo, which co-exists with passages of naturalism recalling his own earlier style. These frescoes - completely covering the walls of the small chapel (4 m sq.) - are one of the earliest examples of a characteristic type of maniera decoration in which all the wall surfaces are painted with complex, densely interwoven figural and decorative motifs, giving the impression of a jewelled ornament.