During the early 16th century, artists responded to their patrons' desire to promote a renaisssance of classical ideals with paintings that increasingly reveal the study of nature and ancient sculpture. The middle of the century, however, witnessed a growing emphasis on personal style and lyrical invention that, with the establishment of the first academies of art was increasingly put to a formula in the later decades.
Fra Bartolommeo's devotional pictures are notable for their harmonious colour and idealised but recognisably Tuscan landscapes. Michelangelo, primarily a sculptor, isolated the human body to give his compositions a monumental grandeur.
Building upon the innovations of Leonardo da Vinci, Fra Bartolommeo and Raphael, Andrea del Sarto developed an eloquent synthesis of their logical harmonies of shape and colour and a distinctly lyrical sensibility.
His younger contemporary and sometime student, Pontormo, took the latter to new expressive heights, creating images carried by an internal, dream-like logic, and in the process formulating a distinct, Florentine Mannerism that would reverberate for decades.
One significant project he worked on was a decorative scheme, depicting scenes from the Old Testament story of Joseph, for the furniture of a bedchamber in the townhouse of the banker Pierfrancesco Borgherini on the occasion of his marriage to the noblewoman Margarita Acciaiuoli in 1515. Andrea del Sarto, Francesco Granacci, and Bacchiacca also contributed to this project, from which fourteen paintings survive. Two by Bacchiacca and three by Pontormo are displayed in this room.
Pontormo's most famous student, Bronzino was ultimately more indebted to Michelangelo's example than to his teacher's idiosyncratic outlook, but aspects of it shine through in the intense, almost hyper-real clarity of his paintings.
Although he had also served in Pontormo's studio, Giovanni Battista Naldini – a co-founder of the Florentine Academy in 1563 – came to exemplify the formularisation in the latter half of the century of the innovations made by the previous generations. As did his contemporary Girolamo Macchietti. Theirs' is a grand, impeccably choreographed mannerism anticipating the Baroque.