Frick Collection visitors had the extended opportunity to view a painting by the Renaissance artist Parmigianino (1503–40), Portrait of a Man with a Book. The work was on loan from the York Art Gallery, and took its place as part of the highly praised special exhibition A Beautiful and Gracious Manner: The Art of Parmigianino, which closed to the public on April 18 after setting winter attendance records. It remained on view at the Frick until November 21, 2004, representing an outstanding complement to the holdings of the museum, which — despite great strength in sixteenth-century paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts — does not otherwise include any works by this artist.
Once controversial, the attribution of Portrait of a Man with a Book to Parmigianino (previously given to Correggio) has recently been substantiated by the discovery of its listing as such in documents pertaining to the famous Farnese Collection in Rome. The canvas was on view in the Anteroom, a permanent collection gallery on the principal floor of the mansion, where it was displayed along with such cabinet-scale pictures as Memling's Portrait of a Man and El Greco's Purification of the Temple. Commented Chief Curator Colin B. Bailey, "It is tremendously generous of the York Art Gallery to leave Parmigianino's magnificent brooding portrait in our care for a year. The introspection of the unidentified sitter — youthful and self-assured, cultivated and something of a dandy, perhaps — strikes a particularly modern note. Clearly this work has yet to reveal all of its secrets, and we are hopeful that the sojourn at the Frick might stimulate renewed inquiry into its meaning and significance."