EVIDENCE OF REPLICATION IN A PORTRAIT OF ELEONORA OF TOLEDO BY AGNOLO BRONZINO AND WORKSHOP
Material evidence supports a date for the Detroit portrait contemporary with the Uffizi portrait. The materials and panel construction are typical of the period. The condition of the painting is in keeping with its age. The use of smalt, red lake, and lead white demonstrate that the background of the Detroit portrait was once similar to that of the Uffizi picture, though executed in less costly materials.
The use of a cartoon to create the Detroit portrait is supported by the similarity of the dimensions of the subjects. Art historical research established replication and the use of a cartoon for a larger replica as a part of Bronzino's studio practice.
The Detroit portrait as a collaborative product is supported by technical and qualitative evidence. Piecework fabrication, border misunderstandings, limited overlaps of paint, and errors in extending and copying the design indicate the presence of several hands. The more talented artists painted the more important parts of the portrait, as would be expected in a workshop.
Qualitative evidence supports the identification of Bronzino's hand in the most important parts of the Detroit portrait, the faces and hands. The superior quality of the painting is commensurate with that found in Bronzino's known portraits.
While none of the material, compositional, technical, and qualitative evidence garnered during the recent treatment of the Detroit portrait proves by itself that the portrait is by Bronzino and his workshop, the evidence taken as a whole is quite persuasive. The cumulative effect of this evidence concerning the degree of autography, along with scholarly opinion, led to the reattribution of Portrait of Eleonora of Toledo and Her Son in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts from Agnolo Bronzino to Agnolo Bronzino and Workshop.
The author would to thank the Detroit Institute of Arts, in particular Paul Cooney for the photography and x-ray and infrared imaging; Dr. Leon Stodulski for the x-ray fluorescence and cross sections; Alfred Ackerman, Iva Lisikewycz, Julie Moreno, and George Keyes for their professional support; Dott.ssa Caterina Caneva and Giovanna Giusti at the Gallerie degli Uffizi; Gianni Marussich, Marina Marussich, and Stefano Scarpelli for their assistance in Florence; Claudia Lazzaro at Cornell University and Ann Vasaly at Boston University for their editorial comments; and the Rockefeller Foundation.