Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information




Western art

View More:


Cosimo I de' Medici in armour

circa 1545


Agnolo Bronzino


17 Nov 1503 - 23 Nov 1572


Though a sense of surface frigidity characterises everything Bronzino produced, emotional heat underwrites his style. As a pupil and adopted son of perhaps the greatest and strangest of mannerist painters, Jacopo Pontormo, Bronzino graduated to artistic maturity with impeccable credentials in that consciously artificial style. That he asserted his own artistic personality, albeit through a steely formality of technique, testifies to the originality of Bronzino's vision. In this magnificent portrait of his principal patron - a work that exists in many replicas and copies - the painter displays a perfectionism it is hard not to think obsessive. Riven with reflections, highlights and shadows, Cosimo's armour alone is an article of transfixing interest: almost reason enough for the painting. It was Bronzino's habit to concentrate on details of costume, jewellery and decoration, to the extent of conceiving the faces of his ducal sitters as polished stones. Apart from this authoritative example, another celebrated version of the work is found in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

AGNSW Handbook, 1999.


Other Title

Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici in armour


circa 1545

Media category


Materials used

oil on poplar panel


86.0 x 66.8 x 3.5 cm panel; 117.5 x 98.5 x 8.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation Purchase 1996

Accession number


Artist information

Agnolo Bronzino

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history


Paolo Giovio, 30 Jul 1546-1552, Rome/Italy, Commissioned by the Duke Cosimo I de' Medici for Paolo Giovio's 'Museo', through Pier Francesco Riccio [see letter from Giovio to Riccio, Rome, 30 July 1546, ASF, MDP, vol 1170a, folio 104 recto]. The portrait is then recorded in the catalogue of Giovio's collection published in 1551. The 'Museo' was established on the site of Pliny's villa at Borgovico on Lake Como for Paolo Giovio's collection of illustrious men. It remained in the Giovio family until 1860.

Family Giovio, 1552-1780, Como/Italy, The painting remained in the Giovio family until 1860. Giulio Giovio, 1552–62; Paolo Giovio il Giovane, 1562–85; Ludovico Giovio, 1585–1610 (when the painting is transferred with the rest of the 'Museo' collection to the Palazzo Giovio, Como); Alessandro Giovio, 1610–47; Paolo Giovio, 1647–60; Antonio Giovio, 1660–61; Alessandrio Giovio, 1661–1705; Paolo Giovio, 1705–60; Alessandro Giovio, 1760–80.

Count Paolo Giovio, 1780-1846, Como/Italy, By descent to Count Paolo Giovio in 1780. Bequeathed by him to Giorgio Raimondi Orchi.

Giorgio Raimondi Orchi, 1846-1860, Italy, Bequeathed by Count Paolo Giovio to Giorgio Raimondi Orchi (or de' Orchi) in 1846, whom sold it to Prince Napoléon in 1860.

Napoléon-Jérôme Bonaparte, 1860-10 May 1872, Paris/France, In Palais Royal, Paris, and from 1871, Claridge's, London. Sold at 'Plon-Plon and the Prince Napoleon' sale, Christie's London, 9–11 May 1872, 2nd day, 10 May, no 302. Bought by 'Holl' for £341.6.0 (ie Thomas Holloway & sons), probably for Alfred Morrison.

Holloway & Sons, 10 May 1872, London/England, [dealer/agent] Purchased at 'Plon-Plon and the Prince Napoleon' sale, Christie's London, 9–11 May 1872, 2nd day, 10 May, no 302. Sold to Alfred Morrison (1821–97). Probably Holloway from Holloway & Sons, which, at least from 1864 and 1870, operated at Bedford Street, Covent Garden. Holloway appears to have been acting as agent for Alfred Morrison; other pictures purchased by Holloway later appeared in the Morrison collection [Burlington Mag 1983, p 528 note 6].

Alfred Morrison, post 10 May 1872-22 Dec 1897, Fonthill Gifford/Wiltshire/England, A label verso records the painting hung on the 'no.1 Drawing Room Landing' at Fonthill House on 28 December 1887. By descent to his son Hugh Morrison (1868–1931).

Hugh Morrison, 22 Dec 1897-15 Mar 1931, Fonthill Gifford/Wiltshire/England, By descent from his father Alfred Morrison (1821–97). By descent to his son John Morrison, 1st Baron Margadale of Islay (1906–96).

John Morrison, 15 Mar 1931-26 Nov 1971, Fonthill Gifford/Wiltshire/England, By descent from his father Hugh Morrison (1868–1931). Sold at his (and others') sale, 'Important pictures by old masters', Christie's London, 26 Nov 1971, no 47. Bought by Cyril Humphris [dealer] for 3,000 gns.

Cyril Humphris, 26 Nov 1971, London/England, [dealer] Purchased at Christie's London, 26 Nov 1971, no 47, for 3,000 gns. In a private collection by early 1980s (see Burlington Magazine 1983). Offered at 'Old master and British paintings', Sotheby's London, 5 July 1984, no 255, not sold ['Purchased by Cyril Humphris by whom sold to the present owner']. On loan to the National Gallery, London 1990 ['Anonymous loan']

Private Collection, post 26 Nov 1971, London/England, In a private collection, London, by 1993 [see Janet Cox-Rearick, 'Bronzino's chapel of Eleanora in the Palazzo Vecchio', 1993, p 38]. With Sotheby's New York, Feb 1993 and Simon Dickinson Ltd, London, June 1995.

Olsen Carr Art Dealers, pre 31 Jan 1996, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, Purchased by the AGNSW from Olsen Carr Art Dealers.

Referenced in 67 publications


Barbara Agosti, Uno storico Lombardo nella cultura artistica del Cinquecento, Florence, 2008, pp 39, 110, 110 note 272, 125, illus fig 78.

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual Report 1996, Sydney, 1996, pp 7, 21, 46, col illus p 6.

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report 2010–11, Sydney, 2011, p 115.

Maurice Brock, Bronzino, Paris, 2002, p 158, col illus p 157.

Edmund Capon AM, OBE, Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation Annual Report 1996, Sydney, 1996, pp 6–8, col illus on cover.

Edmund Capon AM, OBE, Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation Annual Report 1997, Sydney, 1997, col illus p 22.

Edmund Capon AM, OBE, Foundation Newsletter #7, Sydney, Dec 2005, np.

Edmund Capon, Foundation Newsletter #13, 'The Foundation 25 years on', Sydney, Dec 2008, np.

Edmund Capon, Great philanthropists on trial : the art of the bequest, 'The James Fairfax collection', Melbourne, 2006, pp 126–35: p 135.

Alessandro Cecchi, Mitteilunger des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, vol 42, no 1, ‘Il maggiordomo ducale Pierfrancesco Ricci e gli artisti della corte medicea’, 1998, pp 15–43: pp 128, 139 note 66, 140 note 67, 141 appendice 1.

Peter Cochrane, Sydney Morning Herald, 'Art gallery seeks $20m for shopping', Sydney, 22 Jun 1999, p 11.

Miriam Cosic, Sydney Morning Herald, 'Wandering Medici finds a home', Sydney, 08 Feb 1996, p 4, illus in situ p 4.

Janet Cox-Rearick and Mary Westerman Bulgarella, Artibus et Historiae, vol 25, no 49, 'Public and private portraits of Cosimo de’ Medici and Eleonora di Toledo: Bronzino’s paintings of his ducal patrons in Ottawa and Turin', 2004, pp 101–59: pp 115, 120, 154 note 49, col illus p 119, no 21.

Janet Cox-Rearick, Master Drawings, vol 43, no 3, 'Friendly rivals: Bronzino and Salviati at the Medici Court, 1543–48', 2005, pp 292–315: pp 296, 312 note 20.

Janet Cox-Rearick, Bronzino’s chapel of Eleanora in the Palazzo Vecchio, Berkeley, 1993, pp 37, 267–68, 335 note 52, illus p 38, fig 22.

Caroline Dakers, A genius for money. Business, art and the Morrisons, New Haven, 2011, p ix, no 45, col illus btw pp 224–225.

Carlo Falciani and Antonio Natali (Editors), Bronzino. Artist and poet at the court of the Medici, Florence, 2010, pp 114, 264, no II.1., col illus p 115.

Bruno Fasola, Atti del convegno Paolo Giovio: il Rinascimento e la memoria (Como, 3-5 Giugno 1983), 'Per un nuovo catalogo della collezione Gioviana', Como, 1985, pp 169–80: p 177.

Andrea M Gáldy, Agnolo Bronzino: Medici court artist in context, ‘Identity and likeness: Bronzino’s Medici portraits’, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2013, pp 31–50: p 39 note 28.

Count Paolo Giovio, Gli elogi vite brevemente scritte d’huomini illustri de guerra antichi et moderni, 1559, pp 191v–192r.

Count Paolo Giovio, Letter to Pier Francesco Riccio, Rome, 30 Jul 1546. ASF, MDP, vol 1170a, folio 104, transcribe folio 104

Count Paolo Giovio, Gli elogi vite brevemente scritte d’huomini illustri di guerra antichi e moderni, Florence, 1554, pp 436–37. ('Sotto il ritratto del S. COSMO de Medici Duca di Fiorenza').

Count Paolo Giovio, Elogia vivorum bellica virtute illustrium, Basel, 1575, pp 390–91. With an engraved illustration probably after a drawing by Tobias Stimmer

Count Paolo Giovio, Elogia vivorum bellica virtute illustrium, book 7, 1551, pp 338–39.

Giovanni Battista Giovio, Lari artistici: collezioni, Como, 1881, p 85. Records sale of picture to Prince Napoleon.

Giovanni Battista Giovio, Como e il Lario commentario di Poliante Lariano, Como, 1795, p 33. Repr. Arnaldo Forni, Bologna, 1979.

Stewart Hawkins, Daily Telegraph, '$3m art coup – NSW gallery makes its dearest deal', Sydney, 08 Feb 1996, p 9, illus in situ p 9.

Terry Ingram, The Australian financial review, 'Great art find surfaces in Sydney', Sydney, 11 Jan 1996, p 20, illus p 20.

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Paintings and Sculpture', Sydney, 1999, pp 17–77: p 22, col illus p 22.

Richard Jinman, Sydney Morning Herald, 'Director's passion burns ever bright', Sydney, 25 Sep 2008, p 16, col illus p 16.

Heather Johnson, Australian art collector, 'Private pleasure, public gain – the influence of private collections', Ultimo, Apr 1998-Jun 1998, pp 58–61: p 60.

Linda Susan Klinger, The portrait collection of Paolo Giovio, PhD Princeton University, 1991, vol 1, pp 17 note 22, 95 note 109, vol 2 pp 122–23, cat 230, fig 63.

Karla Langedijk, The portraits of the Medici, 15th-18th centuries, 3 vols, Florence, 1981-1987, vol 1, 1981, p 102 note 61, p 413 no 19a.

R. de la Madelaine, Paris-Artiste, 'Nouvelles de l'étranger', Paris, 23 May 1872, p 4.

Eugène Müntz, Mémoires de l'Académie des Inscriptions Belles-Lettres, vol 36, no 2, 'Le musée de portraits de Paul Jove: contributions pour servir à l’iconographie du moyen âge et de la renaissance', 1900, pp 249–343: pp 273, 331.

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and the Renaissance in Florence, 2005, p 328, illus p 328. Fig 121.1. Illustrated in reference to cat no 121, Francesco Salviati 'Portrait of Duke Cosimo I de' Medici' c1545-46, Koelliker Collection, Milan.

Tomislav Nikolic, Look, 'The art that made me', Sydney, May 2018-Jun 2018, pp 23–25: p 25, col illus p 25.

Desmond O'Grady, Brisbane times, 'Baffled Italians are asking why they are putting up Sydney's duke', Brisbane, 14 Dec 2010, np, col illus np.

Néstor Ponce de León, The Columbus Gallery: the “Discoverer of the world” as represented in portraits, monuments, statues, medals and paintings: Historical description, New York, 1893, p 15.

Luigi Rovelli, L'opera storica ed artistica di Paolo Giovio Comasco Vescovo di Nocera: il museo dei ruratti, 1928, p 179, no 143.

John Saxby (Editor), Look, 'Members events', Sydney, Dec 2015-Jan 2016, col illus p 52.

John Saxby (Editor), Look, 'Welcome back', Sydney, Mar 2018-Apr 2018, p 12, col illus p 12.

John Saxby (Editor), Look, 'What lies beneath', Sydney, Nov 2019-Dec 2019, p 64, col illus p 64 (X-ray).

Malcolm Schmidtke (Editor), The Australian, 'Duke fetches a record $2.8m', Sydney, 08 Feb 1996, p 4, illus in situ p 4.

Robert B Simon, Bronzino's Portraits of Cosimo I de' Medici, PhD thesis, 2 vols, United States of America, 1982, vol 1, pp 86–87, vol 2, pp 97ff, 247–56, no A19, illus pp 436–38, figs A19a–A19f.

Robert B Simon, The Burlington Magazine, vol 125, no 966, 'Bronzino's portrait of Cosimo I in armour', London, Sep 1983, pp 527–39; col illus p 529, fig 9 and on cover.

Robert B Simon, Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin, vol 81, no 348, 'Bronzino’s "Cosimo de’ Medici as Orpheus"', Philadelphia, Autumn 1985, pp 16–27: p 17, illus p 17.

Robert B Simon, Atti del convegno Paolo Giovio: il Rinascimento e la memoria (Como, 3-5 Giugno 1983), 'Il ritratto di Cosimo I nel Mueeo Gioviano', Como, 1985, pp 183–95, illus p 193, pl 1.

Robert B Simon, From palace and chapel. Important old master paintings, New York, 2005, p 16, illus p 16.

Robert B Simon, The Burlington Magazine, vol 153, no 1294, 'Bronzino: Florence', London, Jan 2011, pp 59–61: p 60.

Robert B Simon, The Burlington Magazine, vol 129, no 1011, ''Blessed by the hand of Bronzino': the portrait of Cosimo I in armour', Jun 1987, pp 387–88. X-ray images of this work appear on both pages.

Jill Sykes and Carole Cusack, Look, 'Oh my god – the never-ending questions', Sydney, Mar 2004, col illus p 46.

The Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation and Michael Brand, Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation: Celebrating 30 years of art acquisitions, Sydney, 2015, p 19, col illus p 19.

Giorgio Vasari, Le vite de’ più eccellenti pittori scultori ed architettori, vol 7, Florence, 1881, pp 597–98, 598 n1 (ver 26).

Michael Wardell, Look, 'Foundation building', Sydney, Sep 2004, pp 14–17: p 15, col illus p 15.

George M Weisz and William R Albury, The Medical Journal of Australia, vol 198, no 4, 'Medicine on the walls of the art gallery', 04 Mar 2013, pp 1–2, col illus p 1.

Important old master pictures, London, 13 Dec 2000, p 204, under no 80.

Old master and British paintings, London, 05 Jul 1984, np, no 255, col illus.

Apollo, vol 119, no 268, London, Jun 1984, col illus p 125. Adv for Sotheby's.

The Australian financial review, '$2.8m for Old Master', Sydney, 08 Feb 1996, p 47.

Important pictures by old masters, London, 26 Nov 1971, p 40, no 47.

La fiamma, 'Acquistato un rittrato di Cosimo I de' Medici', Sydney, 15 Feb 1996, p 33.

The National Gallery Report April 1990–March 1991, London, p 26, col illus p 27.

The morning post, no 30710, 'Multiple news items', 13 May 1872, p 6.

Catalogue of works of art from the collections of his imperial highness the Prince Napoleon; comprising fine pictures by old masters… saved from the conflagration of the Palais Royal, London, 09 May 1872-11 May 1872, p 26, no 302. Bt 'Holloway, 341.5'.

Collections de S A I Mgr Le Prince Napoléon – Tableaux anciens, Paris, 1867, p 12, no 10. As ‘Portrait de Cosme de Médicis’.

Old master paintings, Vienna, 20 Oct 2015, np, under no 22. Illustrated in reference to lot no 22. Studio of Agnolo di Cosimo di Mariano, called Il Bronzino, Portrait of Grand Duke Cosimo I in armour.