Portrait of Eleanora of Toledo and Her Son Giovanni de’ Medici
Artist Agnolo Bronzino
Date ca. 1550
Movement Late Renaissance
Medium Oil on panel
Dimensions 45 x 37.75″
Housed at Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
Portraits such as this one were ultimately used as a propaganda tool by the ruling elite (the Medici, in this case); note that neither figure expresses much in the way of an individualized personality; instead, they look stately and aloof. Bronzino certainly stylized the work—Eleanora was not known to have been as beautiful as this work portrays her to be, and neither does her hair in this portrait depict her natural blonde coloring; Bronzino further attempts to liken the pair to the Madonna and Child—this may be true especially given the lightening of the blue background behind Eleanora’s head. As important as it was to demonstrate the family’s status through fine garments and natural beauty, it was also crucial to clearly indicate the healthy youth, so as to enforce the direct lineage of power and continuity.