Owing to the summer research grant I was awarded by the History of Art Department, I will visit Budapest over the summer in order to see two paintings by Agnolo Bronzino: Adoration of the Shepherds and Venus, Cupid and Jealousy, both in the Szepmuveszeti Muzeum.
Bronzino’s Adoration of the Shepherds (1535-1540) is considered by many art historians to be the turning point in Bronzino's oeuvre, and this issue I briefly addressed in my MA thesis. Also, it is usually said that The Adoration marks the point of Bronzino’s departure from his master’s (Pontormo’s) style. In Sydney Freedberg’s terms, for example, the shift in Bronzino’s style occurred in 1540. The Adoration of the Shepherds marked this change; Freedberg described The Adoration as "at once descriptively more normative – more like average expectation – and more classicist than anything within Bronzino’s earlier, Pontoromoesque mode."
The issue of stylistic change in Bronzino’s opus is important both for the art historians who follow Walter Friedlaender’s and for those who follow Craig Smyth’s model of stylistic evaluation of Mannerism. The former art historians saw the Budapest Adoration as a painting in which Bronzino lost touch with his master’s expressive energy and turned to a more restrained style, a style more suitable for the Medici Court and the Florentine Academy. The latter art historians highly praised The Adoration, because it was, in their account, the first painting in Bronzino’s opus in which his style had become classicised, and thus closer to a High Maniera work of art.
Bronzino’s allegorical painting Venus, Cupid and Jealousy, on the other hand, is rarely discussed and in my terms may be important for re-evaluating Bronzino's later stage of stylistic development.