In the hands of 16th Century masters like Bronzino, drawings were rarely considered artworks in themselves, but studies in preparation of more finished works like paintings or frescoes. They were a means to an end, a step in the process. Yet, drawings from those times are valued now as highly beautiful works of art in themselves, and rightly so.
Agnolo Bronzino was born Agnolo di Cosimo di Mariano Tori, and known as Il Bronzino for reasons that are unclear but may have had to do with his complexion, or that of his subjects. He had the good fortune to become a pupil of another great Florentine artist, Jacopo Pontormo, who was only nine years older then his pupil. Their styles are similar in may ways; they maintained a collaborative relationship for most of their careers, and attributions of works sometimes flop back and forth.
Bronzino’s drawings show that similarity at times, and a similar level of command of draftsmanship, line and tone; which is to say, very high indeed. (I also see similarities to the chalk drawings of Raphael in his isolated figures.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has mounted an exhibit, the first ever devoted to Bronzino, The Drawings of Bronzino, that contains 60 drawings drawn from sources in the U.S. and Europe. There is a selection of drawings from the exhibit here.
There is a book accompanying the exhibit, also titled The Drawings of Bronzino. The exhibit runs until April 18. 2010.