Bia de Medici

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Agnolo Bronzino was an Italian Mannerist painter from Florence. He was also a dedicated artist to the powerful Medici family that ruled Florence at the time. He was first funded by the Medici family in 1539, when he was one of many artists chosen as Eleanor di Toledo, daughter of Cosimo I de’ Medici and the Doge of Naples (Eleonora di Toledo) wedding painting. It didn’t take long for him to become the official court painter for the duke and his court, and for most of his career. His portrait figures – often interpreted as exemplars of static, graceful, chic, cool, arrogant and confident – influenced the style of European court portraiture for a century.

Today we present a portrait of little Bianca (Bia), Cosimo’s daughter, born in 1539 before Cosimo’s marriage.

In 1560, Simone Fortuna, ambassador to Tuscany of Francesco Maria II della Rovigli, wrote, “During the first years of his reign, Cosimo, There was a lady from Florence who brought a girl named Bia, who was baptized in the name of his illustrious excellence. The duchess found her in her own home, and she took care of the girl, for the child was her husband’s Born before marriage.” So, as so often happens, the little girl grew up with the rest of the family, under the care of Eleanor of Toledo and her grandmother, Maria Salviati. She was with her grandmother a lot, and she was very fond of her.

Tragically, at the age of about 5, Bia suddenly fell ill at the end of January 1542 and died a few weeks later.

In mourning, the duke made a model of a plaster funeral mask for the child, recorded in the 1553 catalogue of the collection of Guardaroba. The catalogue also contains the first record of a portrait of Bia, mentioned in George Vasari’s biography of the painter. Some scholars have suggested that Bronzino did not draw while the child was alive, but modeled it on the mask. The work is dated between 1542 and 1545, when the painter also completed the portrait of Eleanor Toledo and her son, Giovanni (Uffizi Gallery, also in our art archives) ) , also using the same style as the other works – placing the character on a dark blue background with a lighter background near the face.

Have a nice Tuesday!

Side note: Look at the portraits of 4 great women painted by Agnoro Bronzino!

63.3 x 48 cm


Galleria degli Uffizi

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