The work of legendary Renaissance painter Florentine Agnolo di Cosimo, better known as Bronzino, is remarkable for the juxtaposition between the painter’s realistic attention to detail and his choice of otherworldly seeming subjects. In 1503, artist Christian Tagliavini takes Bronzino’s paintings and then uses advanced photo manipulation techniques to bring the luxurious Florentine subjects of Bronzino’s portraits to life.
A multidisciplinary artist, Tagliavini insists on creating each element of his work from scratch. “It’s important to me to make the props and costumes I use in my photos myself,” Tagliavini says. “I spend a lot of time researching and creating all the elements, such as the clothes, the wigs, and the hats.”
For a project like 1503, this pre-production phase was actually the most time consuming portion of the project. Tagliavini spent six months researching the props and materials he would use in his photos, even going so far as to recreate the particular type of damask and velvet he wanted to use by examining centuries-old fragments.
The paintings of Bronzino are not Tagliavini’s sole inspiration. Another artist who played muse to 1503 is early 20th-century painter Amedeo Modigliani, whose propensity for long-necked giraffe women has rubbed off on Tagliavini. In 1503, Tagliavini’s subjects look as if their necks have been tortuously elongated by the elaborate Renaissance collars of the era.
The 1503 series was inspired by Tagliavini’s love for the art, history, and textures of Italy (though he lives in Switzerland). “Italy is a hub of my life: it’s where I grew up, and in some indirect way I’m part of its fabric,” Tagliavini tells me. “But I don’t want to be labeled as someone who just makes recreations of historical portraits. I like to think I’m bringing imaginary eras to life.”