24.2 | Bette Talvacchia

Bronzino’s Del pennello and the Pleasures of Art


Agnolo Bronzino was a Florentine artist in the sphere of the Medici court who was also an accomplished and recognized poet. His most appreciated poems were in the genres of parody and burlesque humor that often employed sexual puns and metaphors as expressive means. This article focuses on Bronzino’s poem Del pennello, a hymn of praise for the artist’s paintbrush, which through a pun on the term pennello, can be understood also to refer to the male sexual organ. The author’s reading explores the meaning of the imagery and its relation to contemporary works of art. It also considers the poem’s teasing subversion of concepts of artistic creation that underlay developing theories of art in the later Renaissance period.