Detail map of Firenze, Toscana, Italy Overview map of Firenze, Toscana, Italy

A: Firenze, Toscana, Italy

Bronzino Paints a Portrait of an Elegant Young Man Mishandling a Book

Circa 1535

Bronzino's Portrait of a Young Man (1530s). Metropolitan Museum of Art, on view in Gallery 638.

Portrait of a Young Man by Bronzino, preserved in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is considered one of the artist's "most arresting" paintings. It is also notable for the sitter's mishandling a book by wedging his finger in the volume while holding it tightly closed. Of course, this simply adds realism to the portrait. 

"The sitter is not known, but he must have belonged to Bronzino's close circle of literary friends, which included the historian Benedetto Varchi and the poet Laura Battiferri, both of whom sat for the artist. Bronzino himself composed verses in the style of Petrarch, and some of the fanciful and witty conceits in this picture—the grotesque heads on the table and chair and the masklike face formed by the youth's breeches—would have been much appreciated in literary circles. The book is doubtless a collection of poems" (, accessed 10-25-2011).

Timeline Themes