Pontormo’s and Bronzino’s Evangelists (1525-8)

This tondo by Pontormo and the three that follow were all painted for the same church in Florence. They are of the evangelists, the four men who wrote the canonical gospels but, all of them, quill in hand, might be artists making a drawing. This image of St John depicts a man looking out at his motif, about to draw it on the red surface below. It does not resemble an author thinking about what to write. This is a man of action, an artist.

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Captions for image(s) above:

Pontormo, St John the Evangelist (1525-8)

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This tondo of St. Matthew, probably by Bronzino, is the very image of an artist looking into a mirror about to paint his own face on the blank tablet he holds. The artist as Evangelist is painting himself.

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Captions for image(s) above:

Bronzino (attrib.), St Matthew the Evangelist (1525-8)

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St. Luke, the patron saint of painters, was, in legend, a painter himself and his attribute, the ox, with its eye staring out from behind the Evangelist clearly denotes that. And, although, the shape of the surface the saint draws on suggests a book, the color is that of the wood panel that Bronzino himself was painting on.

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Captions for image(s) above:

Bronzino (attrib.), St Luke the Evangelist (1525-8)

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Once again, as with the other three, the Evangelist might just as well be an artist with a blank page in front of him. Indeed in no tondo is any writing visible. Their activity is intentionally ambiguous because, almost certainly unknown to the patron, they are "painters".

Captions for image(s) above:

Pontormo or Bronzino, St. Mark the Evangelist (1525-8)

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More Works by Bronzino, Pontormo

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Original Publication Date on EPPH: 06 Nov 2010. © Simon Abrahams. Articles on this site are the copyright of Simon Abrahams. To use copyrighted material in print or other media for purposes beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Websites may link to this page without permission (please do) but may not reproduce the material on their own site without crediting Simon Abrahams and EPPH.