DISEGNO V: Parmigianino

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In order to get out from under the shadow of Antonio di Correggio, Francesco Mazzola, called Il Parmigianino, left Parma and moved with his cousin, also a painter, to Rome in 1524. Francesco, being the younger of the duo from Parma, was referred to as il parmigianino. They worked profitably until the Sack of Rome (1527), when German soldiers broke into Parmigianino’s studio intent on stealing pictures, thus causing the two to return to Parma.

For Vasari, Parmigianino was a paragon of disegno, in this case the term meaning something like inventive drawing:

Among the many natives of Lombardy who have been endowed with the gracious gift of design, with a lively spirit of invention, and with a particular manner of making beautiful landscapes in their pictures, we should rate as second to none, and even place before all the rest, Francesco Mazzuoli of Parma … his manner has therefore been studied and imitated by innumerable painters, because he shed on art a light of grace so pleasing, that his works will always be held in great price, and himself honored by all students of design.

Vasari was less impressed by his painting technique and outright deplored his unreliability, which he attributed to Parmigianino’s deepening obsession with alchemy, which he practiced in an attempt to of getting rich quickly. Parmigianino died impoverished at the age of 37.


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