Art History Hotties: Lodovico Capponi

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Agnolo Bronzino, Lodovico Capponi, 1555 

This young 16th century aristocrat, no doubt, makes the list of "art history hotties". With his strangely elongated torso and fingers, disproportional, small head, and his messy right-out-of-bed styled red hair, Lodovico Capponi captures the eye of every female. Capponi's eyes pierce through the canvas, pulling the attention from any young maiden, and they'll immediately adore him for his wealth. Bronzino portrays Capponi in his family's colors, black and white, and paints every last detail of his ensemble from the silver lining on his shirt to every button and crease in his vest. Capponi also holds a sword, a symbol of power.

The New Yorker claims that this painting "exude[s] aristocratic hauteur and erotic glamour...with the lad's unforgettably protruding glad-to-see-you codpeice". Bronzino, a poet as well as an artist, often uses play on words in his poetry, such as the word panello meaning either "paintbrush" or "penis". With his dirty mind, Bronzino obviously means no coincidence by the similarity between Capponi's sword and a phallus. Contrary to Capponi's face, his body would suggest he is quite happy. Although composed in the 16th century, Bronzino's subtle, dirty humor replicates that of the 21st century.

Bronzino created this painting during the Mannerism period. Mannerism can be characterized by elongated limbs, small heads, formal facial features, and seemingly uncomfortable poses, all of which easily recognizable in the portrait of Capponi. Mannerists take an anti-classicism approach, in attempt to stray from the previous Renaissance Era. Their works break away from a realistic appearance and become more artificial. The gaudy iridescent tarp acting as a background and the dark spots placed unsystematically throughout the painting show those features of mannerism.

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