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Work Young Male Nude Seated Brandishing a Sword in his Right Hand and a Hand

Department of Prints and Drawings: 16th century

Etude pour saint Michel terrassant le Démon

Prints and Drawings
16th century

Mancini Federica

This is a preparatory study for a painting of the Archangel Saint Michael in the Eleanora chapel in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. The work is from a life model. The repainting and retouching of the hand reveal a work in progress. Considered to be the first great accomplishment of Bronzino, this fresco contains an archangel that is remarkable for its decorative richness and idealized figure. This is the earliest example of a typology that the artist would use in his maturer work.

From life

The young male nude is seated, his right arm raised with a sword in hand. The depiction of the figure is rather precise due to the use of a life model. The ambiguities that are noticeable in certain parts (the right leg, the left heel and the raised arm) are in effect reworkings made during its production. The impression given by the work of being "in progress" is especially apparent in the lower part of the study, where the hand holding the sword has been sketched a second time.

The story of Moses

The chapel commission was ordered by the duke of Florence, Cosimo I and by his wife Eleanora of Toledo to celebrate their moving into the Signoria Palace. Considered to be one of the more remarkable works by Bronzino, the Chapel fresco, realized between 1541 and 1546, depicts the story of Moses. The piece in the Louvre is one of the preparatory studies used for the fresco. A completed sketch exists, and it was intended for the decoration of the arch (Frankfurt, Städelsches Kunstinstitut), which would have been presented to the commissioners for their approval. An additional study of a male figure is included, which depicts the Crossing of the Red Sea, now in the Uffizi in Florence and, finally, a study of a young woman, which appears in the composition of Moses Striking the Rock in the Louvre's Cabinet des Dessins (see Inv. 17).


The figure's pose recalls a famous model: the twisting and turning movement of the figure evokes the work of Michelangelo, in particular, the sculpture of Minerva (1530-32, Florence, Palazzo Vecchio) and the Christ at the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Bronzino enormously appreciated the work of Michelangelo, to whom he even dedicated two sonnets. The piece in the Louvre bears witness to the influence of the master, who had just completed the great fresco in the Sistine Chapel. Nevertheless, the Study of a Young Man was for a long time attributed to Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo, a Milanese artist, because of the rendering of the model, which is characterized by the use of sfumato. This chiarascuro technique was developed by Leonardo da Vinci, which he transmitted when in Milan to the Lombard city's artistic community. It was widely used there, which for a long time prevented accurate identification of its author.


Monbeig-Goguel Catherine, notice 10, in Inventaire général des dessins italiens. T. I : Maîtres toscans nés après 1500, morts avant 1600. Vasari et son temps, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1972, p. 39.
Bacou Roseline, notice 37, in Nouvelles attributions : dessins du XVIe au XVIIIe siècle, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1978.
Cox-Rearick Janet, Bronzino's Chapel of Eleonora in the Palazzo Vecchio, Berkeley, Los Angeles, 1993, pp. 101-105.
Cox-Rearick Janet, notice 58, in L'Ombra del genio: Michelangelo e l'arte a Firenze, 1537-1631, éd. M. Chiariani, Firenze, Skira, 2002.

Technical description

  • Agnolo di Cosimo Di Mariono Tori, called Bronzino (Monticelli, 1503-Florence, 1572)

    Young Male Nude Seated Brandishing a Sword in his Right Hand and a Hand

    Circa 1541

  • Black chalk on blue washed paper

    H. 38.5 cm; W. 22.5 cm

  • Filippo Baldinucci collection (vol. Ii, p. 102), Francesco Saverio Baldinucci collection, his son, Pandolfo Pandolfini collection, Camillo Pandolfini collection, Roberto Pandolfini collection, Angiolo Pandolfini collection, Anna Eleonora Pandolfini collection (wife of Filippo Strozzi), Eleonora Teresa Pandolfini collection, purchased by intervention of Filippo Strozzi, on account of the painter François-Xavier Fabre, 1806

    INV 6356

  • Prints and Drawings

    Due to their fragility, works on paper are not on permanent display in the museum.

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