Alessandro di Cristofano di Lorenzo del Bronzino Allori (Florence, 31 May 1535 – 22 September 1607) was an Italian portrait painter of the late Mannerist Florentine school.
In 1540, after the death of his father, he was brought up and trained in art by a close friend, often referred to as his ‘uncle’, the mannerist painter Agnolo Bronzino, whose name he sometimes assumed in his pictures. In some ways, Allori is the last of the line of prominent Florentine painters, of generally undiluted Tuscan artistic heritage: Andrea del Sarto worked with Fra Bartolomeo (as well as Leonardo da Vinci), Pontormo briefly worked under Andrea, and trained Bronzino, who trained Allori. Subsequent generations in the city would be strongly influenced by the tide of Baroque styles pre-eminent in other parts of Italy.
Freedberg derides Allori as derivative, claiming he illustrates “the ideal of Maniera by which art (and style) are generated out of pre-existing art.” The polish of figures has an unnatural marble-like form as if he aimed for cold statuary. It can be said of late phase mannerist painting in Florence, that the city that had early breathed life into statuary with the works of masters like Donatello and Michelangelo, was still so awed by them that it petrified the poses of figures in painting. While by 1600 the Baroque elsewhere was beginning to give life to painted figures, Florence was painting two-dimensional statues. Furthermore, in general, with the exception of the Counter-Maniera (Counter-Mannerism) artists, it dared not stray from high themes or stray into high emotion.
Among his collaborators was Giovanni Maria Butteri and his main pupil was Giovanni Bizzelli. Cristoforo del Altissimo, Cesare Dandini, Aurelio Lomi, John Mosnier, Alessandro Pieroni, Giovanni Battista Vanni, and Monanni also were his pupils. Allori was one of the artists, working under Vasari, included in the decoration of the Studiolo of Francesco I.
He was the father of the painter Cristofano Allori (1577–1621).
Born of the sword maker Cristofano di Lorenzo and Dianora Sofferoni, he still had to enter as a child in the shop of his family friend Agnolo Bronzino if already at the age of fourteen he was autonomous help of his master who, according to Vasari’s testimony, always treated him as a son, rather than as a student. “Sandrino Tofano” is mentioned for the first time as a painter in the payment documents for the History of Joseph at Palazzo Vecchio, based on a project by Bronzino.
Already in 1552 he painted a Crucifixion, currently missing, for Alessandro de Medici. Already working for the Medici, he can learn about their collections and, with the protection of his master, he can approach artists, writers and ecclesiastics.
In 1554 he left for Rome with his brother Bastiano, attending the large circle of Tuscan artists; perhaps he knows Michelangelo himself, whose works he certainly studies, as well as those of Melozzo and Raphael. He painted a Self-portrait and the Portrait of Ortensia de ‘Bardi, in the Uffizi, and the Portrait of a Young Man with a Letter from Berlin.
On the death of his father, in 1555, Angelo Bronzino became in fact the head of the Allori family and Alessandro added the last name Bronzino to his own. He returned to Florence in 1560 to decorate the Montauto chapel in the SS Annunziata, according to the impressions and drawings taken from the Sistine chapel.
In 1560 he began to write an anatomy section, the Dialogo sull’arte del disegno, dedicated to Bronzino; he paints the Christ and the saints Cosmas and Damian of Brussels and the Deposition for the Holy Cross. The following year the Noli me tangere of the Louvre ends and he goes briefly to Rome for the Portrait of Paolo Caprina, now at the Ashmolean Museum. Bronzino made his will on January 18, 1561leaving money “to the widow of Cristoforo Allori, Dianora. To her son and his pupil, the painter Alessandro Allori, he left all his paintings, color drawings and the art of painting. He named universal heirs Alessandro and his brother Sebastiano and constitutes the dowry to their sister, Lucrezia “(Furno, 1902 ).
On October 18, 1563 he was appointed Consul of the Accademia del Disegno in Florence, a position he held until April 1564 and participated in the preparation of the funeral for Michelangelo.
The studio of Francesco I in Palazzo Vecchio
In August 1570 Vincenzo Borghini, an intellectual of the Medici court, called Vasari the program for decorating a room in Palazzo Vecchio, adjacent to the Salone dei Cinquecento and the bedroom of Francesco I de ‘Medici, prince regent of the Grand Duchy of Cosimo de ‘Medici: “the small room has to serve for a wardrobe of rare and precious things, and for currency and art, as would be to say joys, medals, carved stones, worked crystals and vases, geniuses and similar things, not too much greatness, placed in their own cabinets, each of its kind “.
The works, immediately begun by Vasari and his circle, ended in 1572. The Studiolo will be dismantled in 1587 and the treasures contained will be lost; the painted panels – the doors of the wardrobes that contained “the marvels of nature and of human work” will be put back in the early twentieth century in the order derived from Borghini’s instructions – probably not equivalent to the one actually made.
In addition to Vasari and Allori, author of Peach of pearls, Saints of Titus, Mirabello Cavalori, Jacopo Zucchi, Girolamo Macchietti, Giovanni Stradano, Giovanni Battisti Naldini, Maso di San Friano, Francesco Morandini, Bachiacca and others.
On November 23, 1572, Bronzino died in the Allori house and Alessandro recited the funeral oration at the Accademia del Disegno: “Do not die for those who live as Bronzin lived…”.
Biographical information on Alessandro became more intense in the seventies when, with the death of Bronzino and Vasari in 1574, he became the most requested Florentine painter. He is the official artist of the Grand Duke Francesco I de ‘Medici, satisfying his refined needs and taking on various tasks, as before Vasari himself, so much so that he was also appointed architect of the Opera del Duomo in 1592.
He uses different suggestions for works of different contents: Flemish in the Rape of Proserpina of 1570, Michelangelo in the Pietà of 1571 in the SS Annunziata of Florence, of Bronzino in the Holy Family of 1576 in the English Hesketh collection, Roman in the decorations of Palazzo Salviati, by Andrea del Sarto in the Christ and the adulteress of Santo Spirito and in the Cenacle of the Carmine; in the 1577 frescoes of the Gaddi chapel in Santa Maria Novella, with the Stories of Saint Jeromerivals the decorations of the dome by Federico Zuccari, referring to Muziano and Correggio.
From the last seventies the Florentine artistic activity turns mainly to the devout representation: the Allori adapts, using the formal Florentine tradition of Andrea del Sarto, Bronzino and Michelengelo, enriched by the aristocratic taste of the representation of precious furnishings, of precious fabrics and of elaborate embroideries, as in the Last Supper built in 1582 for the convent of Astino and now preserved in the Palazzo della Ragione in the hall of the trusses of Bergamo, in the Madonna with Child, saints and angels of Cardiff, of 1583, in theHoly family with St. Anne and St. Francis, at the Prado, 1584, in the Marriage of Cana in Sant’Agata, 1600, in the Christ in the house of Martha and Mary in Vienna, of 1605 and in the various editorships of the dead Christ of Olmutz, Chantilly, Budapest and Venice.
The latest works
Since the nineties, Alessandro has also taken advantage of the collaboration of his son Cristofano and accepts the novelties coming from the painting of Paul Brill, with the introduction of wide landscapes, as in the Call of St. Peter, in 1596 and in the Sacrifice of Isaac, of 1601, both in the Uffizi, or in the Holy Family of Lisbon, in 1602.
In the penitent Saint Mary Magdalene, at the Stibbert Museum, she renders the traditional iconography more severe, eliminating the excesses of nudity, the skull, the whip and even the sackcloth and makes the sinner a fine lady composed that takes care of the person: the famous normally loose hair is gathered and twisted and the light slips on the embroidered shirt and shawl.
Among the last works, around 1604, is the Preaching of St. John the Baptist of Palazzo Pitti, set again in a Flemish landscape, a wood that is the protagonist of the representation, which stretches and opens to the lights of the sunset, introducing, even among the many figures who attend the sermon, like an atmosphere of calm and silent waiting.
He suffers a lot from gout and from the shop he deals mainly with his son: Alessandro still paints the San Francesco of Arezzo, a Madonna and Child now in Ghent and another preserved in Madrid. He died on 21 September 1607.
Antwerp, Van den Bergh Museum: Francesco I de ‘Medici, around 1570
Arezzo, Museum of Medieval and Modern Art, Deposition, signed and dated 1580
Casa Vasari, Saint Francis praying, around 1605
Chiesa della Misericordia, Noli me tangere, signed and dated 1584
Baltimore, private collection, Temptations of St. Benedict, circa 1586
Bergamo, Palazzo della Ragione, Last Supper, signed and dated 1582
Brussels, Royal Museums, Saints Cosmas and Damian, circa 1559
Budapest, Museum of Fine Arts, dead Christ and two angels, signed, circa 1582
Cambridge, private collection, Portrait of a young man
Cardiff, National Gallery of Wales, Madonna and Child Angels and Saints, 1583
Carini, Duomo, Adoration of the shepherds, 1578
Castelfranco di Sotto, Collegiate, Liberation of St. Peter from the prison, signed and dated, 1584
Chantilly, Museo Condé: Holy Family, signed and dated, 1603
Cortona, church of Santa Maria Nuova, birth of Mary, signed and dated, 1595
Krakow, Museum, Portrait of Francesco I de ‘Medici, 1565.
Dijon, Magnin Museum, Susanna and the Elders, signed and dated, 1561
Florence, Uffizi, Crucifixion with Saint John and Saint Mary Magdalene, around 1552; Self-portrait, about 1555; Sacrifice of Isaac, 1601; Hercules and the Muses, signed, 1568; Venus and Cupid, around 1570; Portrait of Giovanni di Averardo de ‘Medici; Portrait of Lorenzo di Giovanni de ‘Medici, around 1570; Portrait of Bianca Cappello, around 1572; Portrait of Isabella de ‘Medici, ca 1576; Portrait of Torquato Tasso, ca 1590; St. Peter walks on the water, signed and dated 1596; Isaac’s sacrifice, signed and dated 1601; Portrait of Giuliano de ‘Medici; Portrait of Francesco I de ‘Medici; Pietà, 1580
Academy Gallery, Madonna and Child, signed and dated 1575; Coronation of Mary, 1581
Baptistery of San Giovanni, Baptism of Christ, signed and dated, 1592
Casa Buonarroti, Christ, 1559
Stibbert Museum, Portrait of Francesco I de Medici, around 1590; Santa Maria Maddalena, around 1600
Palazzo Ginori, Portrait of Caterina Soderini Ginori, ca 1560
Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Portrait of Giuliano di Nemours, circa 1587; Portrait of Bianca Cappello, 1587
Palazzo Pitti, Scenes from the life of Saint Lawrence, ca 1575; Portrait of Bianca Cappello, ca 1582; Portrait of Cardinal Ferdinando de ‘Medici, around 1588; Madonna and Child, circa 1592; Preaching of John the Baptist, signed, around 1604;
Palazzo Portinari Salviati, Christ in the house of Martha, 1580
Palazzo Vecchio, Studiolo of Francesco I, The fishing of pearls, 1570; Banquet of Cleopatra, signed 1571
Church of Sant’Agata, The wedding of Cana, signed and dated 1600
Church of Santa Croce, Deposition from the cross, 1560; Ascension and coronation of Mary, 1588
Church of Sant’Egidio, Pietà, 1578
Church of San Giovanni degli Scolopi, Christ and the Samaritan woman, around 1587
Church of San Marco, The descent to Limbo, around 1580
Church of Santa Maria Novella, Christ and the Samaritan woman, signed and dated 1575; Last Supper, 1584; Martyrdom of Saint James, signed and dated 1592; Apparition of the Madonna to Saint Hyacinth, signed and dated 1596
Church of San Niccolò, Martyrdom of Saint Catherine, 1582; Isaac’s sacrifice, signed and dated 1583
Church of Santo Spirito, Holy martyrs, signed and dated, 1574; Christ and the adulteress, signed and dated, 1577
Church of the SS. Annunziata, Birth of Mary, signed and dated 1602
Frankfurt, Private Collection, Manly Portrait
Genoa, Strada Nuova Museums – Palazzo Bianco, Adoration of the Magi, oil on copper
Lisbon, Museum of Ancient Art, Rest during the flight to Egypt
London, private collection, Madonna and Child, angels and saints
Los Angeles, Getty Museum, The Abduction of Proserpina, 1570
Lucca, Duomo, Presentation of Mary in the Temple, 1598
Madrid, Museo del Prado, Deposition from the cross, around 1560; Holy Family with Cardinal Ferdinando de ‘Medici, signed and dated 1584; Portrait of Filippo de ‘Medici,
Messina, Regional Museum, Madonna dell’Itria, signed and dated 1590. Work originating from the church of San Francesco all’Immacolata.
Milan, private collection, Annunciation, 1591.
Montepulciano, Pinacoteca, Portrait virile, 1587
Church of Sant’Agostino, Resurrection of Lazarus, signed 1593
Montpellier, Fabre Museum, Venus and Cupid; Saint John the Baptist, signed and dated, 1586
New Haven, Yale University, Portrait of Bianca Cappello, around 1582
Olomouc, Cathedral, Deposition from the cross, 1583
Palermo, Collection by Antonio Lucchesi-Palli of the Palazzo Campofranco gallery, Portrait, documented painting.
Pisa, church of the Carmine, Ascension, signed and dated, 1581
Pistoia, church of San Francesco, Resurrection of Lazarus, signed and dated 1594
Pozzolatico, parochial, Madonna with Child and saints, 1582
Prague, Museum, Baptism of Christ, signed, around 1570
Prato, church of the Misericordia, Ascension of Mary, signed and dated 1603
Rome, Academy of San Luca, Saints Andrew and Bartholomew, around 1565
Galleria Colonna, The descent to Limbo, 1578
Corsini Gallery, Portrait of a Woman, circa 1582
Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Ascent to Golgotha, signed and dated 1604
San Paolo del Brasile, Museum of Art, Portrait of Piero di Medici
St. Petersburg, Ermitage, Dante and Virgil in Purgatory, around 1575; Portrait of a young man; Bathsheba in the bathroom; Madonna and Child, signed
Tübingen, University, Portrait of a Woman, circa 1575
Venice, Seminar, Portrait of Lucrezia Minerbetti, around 1580
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Portrait of Maria de Medici, around 1595; Christ in the house of Martha, signed and dated 1605
Florence, church of the Carmine, Ultima Cena, 1582
Pitti Palace, Decorations
Palazzo Portinari Salviati, Stories of the Magdalene; Deposition; Saints, signed and dated 1580; Grotesques; Batracomiomachia; Scenes of the Odyssey, 1581 – 1582
Church of San Marco, Stories of Saint Anthony, 1588
Church of Santa Maria Novella, Stories of Saint Jerome; Virtue, around 1578; Transport of the body of Christ, around 1587 (lunette of the Great Cloister ); Decorations of the refectory
Church of the SS. Annunziata, Christ among the doctors; Expulsion of merchants from the Temple, 1560
Uffizi: Grottesche, 1581
Passignano, Badia, Stories of Saint Giovanni Gualberto, 1580
Poggio a Caiano, Villa Medicea, Allegories; Grottesche, 1579-82.