Quincentenary of the Birth of Parmigianino Marked by Only One Exhibition in the United States

New York’s Frick Collection is the only museum in the United States to present an exhibition celebrating the 500the anniversary of the birth of Parmigianino  (1503–1540).  Born in Parma and known as Parmigianino after his native city, Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola lived thirty-seven years, and his career spanned twenty.  Yet in that brief time, the quantity, variety, and sheer beauty of his drawings came to exemplify the art of draftsmanship.  Almost one thousand drawings by this prolific artist survive, and his graphic output represents the range of Renaissance practice in all its forms and media.  Less than twenty years after his death, the humanist Ludovico Dolce stated, “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.”  A Beautiful and Gracious Manner: The Art of Parmigianino is organized by the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, and presents fifty-one drawings that span the artist’s career and illustrate the genius of his achievement.  These sheets are accompanied by seven jewel-like oil paintings, similar to them in scale and refinement, which evoke the correspondences between Parmigianino’s fluent handling of oil and the graphic media.  Parmigianino was the first Italian painter to experiment with printmaking, and the dozen prints included in the exhibition feature his pioneering etchings that were so highly prized by Renaissance collectors for their inimitable choreography of line.  The exhibition also commemorates Parmigianino’s gifts as a portraitist by presenting swiftly executed sketches and two works in oil, notable, as are all his portraits, for their acutely observed detail and enigmatic psychology.  The sitters personify the rarified courtly cultures in which Parmigianino worked and represent the kindof patrons who esteemed the artist for his beautiful and gracious manner.  The exhibition’s selection of drawings was chosen from the widest range of international public and private collections to provide the most outstanding examples representing the four key periods in Parmigianino’s brief career: his beginnings in Parma (1520–24); his sojourn in Rome (1524–27); his years in Bologna (1527–30); and his return to Parma (1530–40).  Curated by David Franklin, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, National Gallery of Canada, and coordinated at the Frick by Associate Curator Denise Allen, the exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.  Presentation of the exhibition in New York is made possible, in part, by a major grant from the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation with additional generous support from Mr. and Mrs. Howard Phipps, Jr., Melvin R. Seiden, The Helen Clay Frick Foundation, Hester Diamond, W. Mark Brady, Diane Allen Nixon, and the Fellows of The Frick Collection.  



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