Parmigiano, Il

, whose family name was Francis Mazzuoli, is more generally called Parmigiano, from Parma, where he was born in 1503. He studied under two uncles, Michele and Philip, but the chief modelof his imitation was Correggio, from whose works, compared with those of Michael Angelo, Raphael, and Julio, he formed that peculiar style for which he is celebrated. He displayed his natural genius for painting so very early, that at sixteen he is said to have produced designs which would have done honour to an experienced painter. His first public | work, the St. Eustachius, in the church of St. Petronius, in Bologna, was done when he was a boy. In 1527, when Rome was sacked by the emperor Charles V. Parmigiano was found, like Protogenes at Rhodes, so intent upon his work as not to notice the confusion of the day. The event is variously related; some say that he escaped, like the ancient artist, from all violence, by the admiration of the soldiers;*


It is said that at this dangerous time he was employed on the famous picture of the Vision, which the mar quis of Abercoro purchased in Italy for 1500l. and sold to Mr. Davis, of Bristol, in 1809, for 3000 guineas.

others, that he was plundered by them of his pictures, though his person was safe the first party who came taking only a few, while those who followed swept away the rest. His turn for music, and particularly his talent for playing on the lute, in some degree seduced him from his principal pursuit; and Vasari says he was much diverted from his art by the quackery of the alchymists; but this fact has by some writers been questioned. He died of a violent fever, in 1540, at the early age of 36.

The ruling features, says Mr. Fuseli, of Parmigiano’s style, are elegance of form, grace of countenance, contrast in attitude, enchanting chiaro-scuro, and blandishments of colour. When these are pure, he is inimitable; but his elegance is often stretched to excessive slenderness, his grace deformed by affectation, contrast driven to extravagance, and from the attempt to anticipate the beauties which time alone can give, his shade presents often nothing but a pitchy mass, and his lights a faded bloom. The taste of Parmigiano was exquisite, but it led him more to imitate the effects than the principles of his masters; with less comprehension than ardour, he adopted the grace of Raphael, the contrasts of Michael Angelo, the harmony of Correggio, without adverting that they were founded on propriety, energy, and grandeur of conception, and the permanent principles of chiaro-scuro; hence the cautious precept of Agostino Caracci, which confines his pupil to a little of Parmigiano’s grace.

Parmigiano was a learned designer; to his depth in design we must ascribe that freedom of execution, those decided strokes of his pencil, which Albano calls divine, and which add grace to the finish of his pictures; they have not, indeed, all equal “impasto” of colour, nor equal effect, though some, for the amore with which they are | conducted, have been ascribed to Correggio such is the Cupid scooping his bow, with the two infants at his feet, one laughing, the other crying, of which there are several repetitions. We see indeed, some of the pictures of Parmigiano so often repeated, that though we may grant them the respect due to age, we can scarcely allow them all the praise of originality. Such is, among his lesser works, the picture of the Madonna with the Infant, St. John and St. Catherine, and the head of St. Zaccharia, or some other sainted elder, in the fore-ground; its duplicates are nearly spread over every gallery of Italy. His altar-pieces are not numerous, and the most valued of them is perhaps that of St. Marguerita, in Bologna, a composition rich in figures, contemplated with admiration, and studied by the Caracci; Guido even preferred it to the St. Cecilia of Raphael. The last of his works is the “Moses breaking the Tables,” at Parma, in which, says sir Joshua Reynolds, we are at a loss which to admire most, the correctness of drawing, or the grandeur of the conception. The etchings of Parmigiano, models of freedom, taste, and delicacy, are universally known.

Parmigiano had a cousin and pupil, G. Mazzuoli, who is little known beyond Parma and its districts, though for “impasto,” and the whole mystery of colour, he has few equals. There is reason to believe that several pictures ascribed to Francis, especially those of a stronger and gayer tone, have been painted by this artist. He was more attached to the style of Correggio than Francis, and seized its character with great felicity in the Nuptials of St. Catherine, in the church del Carmine. He excelled in perspective, and in the Last Supper, in the refectory of S. Giovanni, placed and painted a colonnade with all the illusion of Pozzo. To the most harmonious chiaro-scuro, he added grandeur, variety, vivacity, in fresco. None of his fellow artists equalled him in copiousness, fertility, and execution; and to these perhaps we may ascribe the inequality perceptible in his works. He flourished about 1580, and had a son Alexander, who painted in the dome of Parma, in 1571. He was a feeble imitator of the family style. 1


Argenville, vol. II. Pilkington, by Fuseli. Reynolds’s Works, vol II. p. 194,