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By Narim Bender
Parmigianino: 160 Paintings and Drawings
Copyright © 2015 Narim Bender
Drawings and Prints
Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola (also known as Parmigianino ("the little one from Parma") was an Italian Mannerist painter and printmaker active in Florence, Rome, Bologna, and his native city of Parma. His work is characterized by elongation of form and includes Vision of Saint Jerome (1527) and the Madonna with the Long Neck (1534). Parmigianino was also an early Italian etcher, a technique that was pioneered in Italy by Marcantonio Raimondi, but which appealed to draughtsmen: though the techniques of printing the copper plates require special skills, the ease with which acid, when substituted for ink, can reproduce the spontaneity of an artist's hand attracted Parmigianino, a master of elegant figure drawing. Parmigianino also designed chiaroscuro woodcuts, and although his output was small he had a considerable influence on Italian printmaking. Some of his prints were done in collaboration with Giovanni Jacopo Caraglio.
Parmigianino was the eighth child of Filippo Mazzola and one Donatella Abbati. His father died of the plague two years after Parmigianino's birth, and the children were raised by their uncles, Michele and Pier Ilario, who according to Vasari were modestly talented artists. In 1515, his uncle received a commission from Nicolò Zangrandi for the decoration of a chapel in San Giovanni Evangelista; a work later completed by a young Parmigianino. By the age of eighteen, he had already completed the Bardi Altarpiece. In 1521, Parmigianino was sent to Viadana (along with painter Girolamo Bedoli who was to marry his cousin) to escape the wars between the French, Imperial, and papal armies. In Viadana, he painted two panels in tempera, depicting Saint Francis for the church of the Frati de' Zoccoli, and the Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine for San Pietro. He also worked in San Giovanni and met Correggio, who was at work on the fresco decorations of the cupola.
In 1524, he traveled to Rome with five small paintings, including the Circumcision of Jesus and his Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror, seeking patronage of the Medici pope, Clement VII. Vasari records that in Rome, Parmigianino was "celebrated as a Raphael reborn". In January 1526, Parmigianino and his uncle, Pier Ilario, agreed with Maria Bufalina from Città di Castello, to decorate the church of San Salvatore in Lauro with an altarpiece of the Vision of Saint Jerome (1526–27). Within a year, the Sack of Rome caused Parmigianino, and many other artists, to flee.