Past Exhibition: A Beautiful and Gracious Manner

A Beautiful and Gracious Manner: The Art of Parmigianino

January 27, 2004 to April 18, 2004

Born in Parma in 1503 and known as Parmigianino after his native city, Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola lived only thirty-seven years, yet in that brief time the quantity, variety, and sheer beauty of his drawings came to exemplify the art of draftsmanship. Less than twenty years after his death, the theorist Ludovico Dolce observed, "Parmigianino endowed his creations with a certain beauty which makes whoever looks at them fall in love with them. So delicate and accurate was his draftsmanship that every drawing of his . . . . astonishes the eyes of the beholder."

Parmigianino was an artistic prodigy whose gift first manifested itself in drawing. In Rome, he was celebrated as a Raphael reborn. During his lifetime, his drawings were prized by collectors for their combination of seemingly effortless technical brilliance and enigmatic subjects, and his first monumental public commission, the frescoes decorating the vault and apse of the church of Santa Maria della Steccata in Parma, today ranks among the greatest achievements of European architectural painting.

A Beautiful and Gracious Manner: The Art of Parmigianino celebrated the five-hundredth anniversary of Parmigianino's birth by presenting some fifty drawings and five closely related small-scale paintings that span his twenty-year career and illustrate the genius of his achievement. Also included were a dozen prints that demonstrated his pioneering experiments with printmaking and two portraits, notable, as are all his portraits, for their acutely observed detail and enigmatic psychology.

The exhibition was organized by the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Curated by David Franklin, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, National Gallery of Canada, and coordinated at The Frick Collection by Associate Curator Denise Allen, it was accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.

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