Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola, known as Parmigianino, was an Italian painter, a fundamental exponent of the Mannerist current and of Emilian painting in general. The nickname, in addition to the origins, derived from the small build and gentle appearance.
The Mazzola family, originally originally from Pontremoli, had moved to Parma since 1305 and had practiced commerce and craftsmanship obtaining a solid economic base.
In a document from the archives of the Baptistery of Parma, Francesco was born in the neighborhood of San Paolo in Parma, on 11 January 1503, by the painter Filippo Mazzola and, as we obtain from other documents, a certain Donatella Abbati; eighth of nine children, he was baptized two days later, on January 13th. The father, from the first wife Maria (daughter of the Cremonese painter Francesco Tacconi, of whom he had been a pupil) had had older children, among whom we only know a Zaccaria, a painter of little importance active in Umbria.
The Parmigianino family lived in the alley of the Axis, today called "borgo del Parmigianino". Also his uncles Pier Ilario and Michele were painters who, at the death of Philip, according to Vasari in 1505 for a plague epidemic, took care of Francesco to start him to study drawing and painting, "even if they were old and painters of not much fame ". His uncles were in fact modest artists, repeaters of a provincial painting of Ferrarese origin: they could only teach him the technical equipment necessary for any apprentice. Important examples for his artistic training, even if not decisive, were the frescoes of Correggio and Anselmi in Parma and the observation of the works of the Lombards operating in Cremona, such as Melone, Bembo and above all Pordenone; he also had to look at works in cities such as those of Cima da Conegliano and Francesco Francia, as well as local masters such as Francesco Marmitta and Cristoforo Caselli.
Most likely he also had the chance to receive a literary and musical education. His practice with reading is evidenced for example in a drawing related to the frescoes of the Rocca of Fontanellato where he appears the first verse of the lyric CCCXXIV of the Canzoniere by Francesco Petrarca
The success in San Giovanni opened the doors for new commissions. On November 21st, 1522, the Parma Cathedral builders signed a contract with his uncles for the decoration with four figures of the cruise over the altar. On that occasion he is already called "magister", despite the very young age that still requires the presence of guardians, and a reasonable compensation of 145 gold ducats is agreed (think that in Correggio for the entire dome and the appurtenances on November 3, a thousand ducats had been granted). Parmigianino but in the end in the Duomo never put his own brush to the test.
In 1523 or, at the latest, in the first half of 1524, before leaving for Rome, in the ceiling of a room of Rocca Sanvitale di Fontanellato, near Parma, frescoed the so-called "stufetta" (private bathroom) with fourteen lunettes with episodes of Ovidian fable of Diana and Atteone, sandwiched by plumes in which twelve putti are painted; the background is given by an arbor followed by a hedge of roses above which the sky overlooks; in the center of the sky is a round mirror with the inscription RESPICE FINEM ("observes the end", understood in the story).
In the summer of 1524, after a plague epidemic ended, he left for Rome; During his trip to Rome, Francesco was accompanied by his uncle Pier Ilario, and perhaps by passing through Umbria he also joined his brother Zaccaria, whose signature is among those of the artists in the "caves" of the Domus Aurea.
Arrived in Rome he gave his works to Pope Clement VII, but he did not get direct commissions from the Pope, despite the promise of entrusting him with the Sala dei Pontefici in the Borgia Apartment. He worked rather for figures from the papal court, such as Lorenzo Cybo, captain of the papal guards, who drew around 1524. In this work, today in Copenhagen, he confirmed his great acuteness of psychological identification.
The count of the works created in the brief Roman stay is a very controversial subject in the criticism. Many works are in fact referred now to 1524-1527, now the next Bolognese period (until 1530). For example, the Holy Family with St. John the Capodimonte Museum is the most raffaellesco and classic of his paintings, with references to the Madonna of the Blue Diadema of Raphael's workshop, but today we tend to identify it with one of the "gouache" works. that Vasari remembered how to make it as soon as he arrived in Bologna.
Surely in Rome he performed the Vision of St. Jerome, a monumental altarpiece that should have been in the middle of a triptych, commissioned by Maria Bufalini of Città di Castello. The painting, painted in 1527, was preceded by an intense preparatory work and was interrupted by the arrival of the Lanzichenecchi during the Sack of Rome. On 6 May 1527 the Lanzichenecchi arrived in the city. Despite the dramatic events of the Sacco, the painter initially remained in the city where, according to the chronicles supplied by Vasari, he found the protection of some German soldiers struck by the vision of the altarpiece he was working on. They asked him for drawings and watercolors as a cut, but then, feeling threatened by other troops, he was sent in haste to Emilia by uncle Pier Ilario, who was with him, who took care before leaving the city of entrust the vision of St. Jerome to the friars of Santa Maria della Pace.
Recent studies hypothesize that the daring adventure of Parmigianino was actually made possible by the shelter found near the welcoming Colonna, pro-imperial, precisely because of its knowledge with the Sanvitale related to them.
He arrived in Emilia in June 1527, but instead of returning home he decided to settle in Bologna, which at that time was the second most populous city of the Papal State: probably the fame acquired in the Eternal City prompted him to seek fortune in another great center, rather than its own city. He remained there for almost four years, during which he reached the age of majority, emancipating himself completely from his uncles.
The release dates back to the first months of 1540 and a local tradition, not confirmed by documents, shows how the artist, before fleeing, destroyed what little of his was sketched in the apse of the Steccata, offended by the confreres. He then quickly escaped to Casalmaggiore, a town just outside the borders of the Parma state, today in the province of Cremona. He did not have time to stay in San Secondo Parmense, at the Rossi's Court of San Secondo, where he had to be a few years before, creating a powerful portrait of Pier Maria Rossi of San Secondo and perhaps sketching only that of his wife, then completed by someone other.
Here in April he wrote the famous letter to Giulio Romano, who urged him to give up the task of furnishing drawings for the apse of the Steccata, as this work could very well complete him and get those three hundred scudi that would have been his, in the name of a solidarity between artists. He accompanied the missive from one of his trusted "friend", who, as he had and write Giulio Romano himself in his letter of refusal of the appointment to the confreres of the Steccata, was "very arrogant with a great chatter and spoke for hieroglyphs and very devoted of the said Francis and gutted and better then there was an advocate able to defend his reasons and confuse those of your dominions, so that I could understand that I could seize scandal, which I very much abhor because in this gain it does not have them to be my wealth ... "
To survive, the artist painted for the local church a Pala today in Dresden, where an unreal silence prevails among the participants and with unreal and unreal colors, which was completed, including accurate studies on paper, within the scarce five months that passed small town. According to Vasari, he also had time to paint a Roman Lucrezia, a work of classical statuary, today in Naples.
On 5 August 1540, in fact, during the summer that you can imagine torrid, the artist became ill, perhaps of malaria, and made will, leaving heirs his three servants still minors, who were perhaps also his helpers in the art, and 100 shields to his sister Ginevra.
Taken from "a severe fever and a cruel flow" (Vasari) within a few weeks he died, "and thus ended the travails of this world, which was never known by him if not full of annoyances and annoyances ".
He was buried in the church of the Serviti near Casalmaggiore, naked with a cross of an archpriest on his chest at the top as he had arranged, according to the Franciscan use. From 1846 there is remembered by a plaque, placed in the second chapel on the left.