Agnolo Bronzino: Portrait of Lucrezia Pucci Panciatichi
The mirrors of the artists
by Isabel del Rio
I have always thought that the best way of expressing an artistic feeling is including in your artwork a mirror, a more or less evident mirror.
Diego Velázquez used to organize his masterpieces around this idea. A mirror is in front of his Venus (National Gallery, London, 1647-51) and infinite mirrors are hidden in Las Meninas’s room (Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1656): one of these mirrors is in the spectator’s hand and some other mirrors… I am sure that they are flying around the spectator’s imagination, even if he has not got any sensibility.
Maybe this last idea is what drives to the first one, because if you do not have any imagination, sensibility, love, sorrow, fear, horror or meanness, you can feel as an artist, lover, widower, martyr, princess or villain looking at the mirror of the painter’s eyes, looking at the mirror of the writer mind.
Pablo Picasso was less obvious than Diego Velázquez in his series of the Painter Model. Here, there is only one mirror, an invisible mirror that reflects the artist on his model and vice versa… and why did Picasso copy Las Meninas so many times? To feel like Velázquez, to see himself on the old master’s face.
This portrait of Lucrezia Pucci Panciatichi by Agnolo Bronzino (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, 1540) is not another thing that a mirror, an opaque glass where you see your own image turned into a rich woman from the 16th century, married with a powerful banker from Pistoia and who had to flee from her town home due to those dramatic rivalries of the Medici’s time. Where did she flee? To Florence? To Rome? No, she fled to the other side of her mind, she jumped out of the canvas, she moved to our home thanks to the magic of the painter’s hand.
I have been always fascinated by this portrait, by Lucrezia’s long neck and perfect hands, by Lucrezia’s rigid expression and smooth skin, by Lucrezia’s old thoughts and current green eyes. If I could choose an image of me, it would be Lucrezia’s image, if she had to choose and image of her, it would be the miens, the yours, the ours… she has been jumping from her dark background and to her open foreground during years and centuries and this ordinary miracle has happened thanks to the incredible intention of a little painter.
Have you feel some time like me? Maybe when you have read these lines, maybe this page is a glass too and maybe your reflection is signing this ordinary little text.