(b. 1494, Pontormo, d. 1557, Firenze)

Study for the lunette

Pen and bister over black chalk on paper, 185 x 381 mm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

This is a study, one of two early sketches, for the lunette fresco in the Salone of the Villa Medici at Poggio a Caiano. These sketches depict a dry laurel branch and one sprouting new foliage, both coiled, in monumental form, around the oculus. In the fresco, by contrast, Pontormo produced an artistically more convincing version by having several thin branches sprout from the thick but sawn-off laurel branches on which the upper putti are sitting. The laurel - lauro in Italian - had long been a common and universally known metaphor for Lorenzo (Laurentius) the Magnificent. The dried laurel branch (the 'broncone'), which gives off new leaves in the spring, became the image for the descendants of Lorenzo.