The Immaculate Conception, the last voice of Bronzino – Florence, returns home
Agnolo Bronzino, Immaculate Conception, 1870-1872. Courtesy Friends of Florence
It was not a simple cleaning from the patina of time and the residues of invasive interventions: under the yellowed paints, the restorers discovered that much of the sky and the faces of the saints had been completely repainted to mask the state of abrasion of the originals, with a result very far from the sixteenth century painting.
Being an unfinished shovel, the removal of the posticles was not a foregone choice: decisive in this sense was the presence of a prestigious commission such as the Medici, in itself a guarantee of quality for a painting of the sixteenth century. It was therefore decided to intervene respecting the "unfinished" character of the work, leaving in sight even unusual technical details.
Once the environmental dirt and the conspicuous touches have been eliminated, the Immaculate Conception has also provided important data on its execution: Bronzino used a simple and decisive preparation board, to be sweetened later with expertly details freehand paintings, primarily the folds of the clothes.
Indecisions, reconsiderations, successive adjustments do not go unnoticed by the reflectographic examination. However, the real surprise of the investigation is the palette: incredibly poor compared to what we might expect, observing the result and keeping in mind the young Bronzino, who traded with a large number of pigments to obtain refined pictorial effects. Here the now mature master uses a range of very reduced pigments and common raw materials, such as azurite instead of the much more precious lapis lazuli blue for the Madonna's mantle. But if the colors are few, really remarkable is the inventiveness that Bronzino shows in mixing and matching them, translating them into soft volumes.
The restoration of the Immacolata Concezione was realized thanks to the intervention of the non-profit organization Friends of Florence, on the occasion of the exhibition Il Cinquecento in Florence. From Michelangelo to Vasari to Palazzo Strozzi.