Considered to be amongst the Italian Renaissance’s greatest geniuses, Parmigianino was a mighty influential Mannerist painter who made a strong impact in his brief 21 year old artistic career. Parmigianino was his nickname, which translated to ‘the little one from Parma’, and he was the leading scholar of the Parma School of painting. Parmigianino was heavily influenced by the works of the Old Masters like Michelangelo, Raphael and Correggio. Strong characteristics of Parmigianino’s paintings include large figures with an intense emotional display which have been painted with a definitive grace. Within his short career he dared to be different from other artists and continues to push artistic boundaries. In fact his boldness became a source of inspiration for other artists who then continued his tradition in the same way. Unconventional and modern art critics referred to him as the ‘Prince of Mannerism.’
Born as Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola in 1503 in Parma, by the age of two Parmigianino and his brothers were orphaned and raised by his uncles who were established artists. Despite his young age Parmigianino showed exceptional talent for the arts and started helping his uncles in their works as well. By the age of 16, Parmigianino had already completed an altar piece for the church and was learning meticulously from his uncles. Most of Parmigianino’s paintings consisted of religious contexts in the form of frescoes but he also painted altarpieces, portraits and then later on experimented with woodcuts and engravings. During his short career he produced some of the most extraordinary paintings and was one of Italy’s first and most talented printmakers as well. He was always recognized for his exceptional talent hence it’s a shame that his career and life were cut short by war and within three years he lost his life and the art world a true genius. One wonders, if he had survived the war’s aftermath, what other astounding paintings would Parmigianino have gone on to produce. Parmigianino is regarded as one of the greats because he successfully managed to make his paintings look grace and elegant in a new manner, and they were etched in deep sensuous beauty which was beyond explanation at times. He started a new movement as within his paintings one can clearly see that there are strong elements of mysterious vagueness as well as some strains and tensions which he tried to conceal within his works from time to time. Always the one daring to be different and trying new things, Parmigianino never stopped experimenting with new mediums and techniques. These experimentations are quite visible in some of his drawings and paintings. A lot of his works get featured when art critics mention the masterpieces of the Renaissance; these include his paintings of The Vision of St Jerome, Madonna of the Long Neck, Portrait of a Lady and Madonna with a Rose.
Today his works are spread out worldwide including Parma, Italy, the National Gallery in London, Uffizi in Florence, and the Tate Modern. This pioneer of the Mannerist art style was a smooth and effortless painter artist who managed to excel in anything he put his mind to.