|Parmagianino, Madonna with the Long Neck, 1534-40, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy. Image from Wikipedia|
What’s an artist to do when he’s bursting onto the scene just after greats like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael recently left it? This was the dilemma faced by the Italian Mannerists, artists who had to figure out a way to emerge from the shadows of Renaissance greats and define their own style.
One look at Parmagianino’s most famous painting, The Madonna with the Long Neck, tells us he was trying to do exactly that. Unlike the muscular Madonna by Michelangelo or the graceful, grounded Madonnas of Raphael, Parmagianino elongates the figure of the Madonna, and every other person in the painting. The Christ Child seems to slip dangerously off of her lap; bones seem rubbery within legs and fingers. To add to the effect, the painting is larger than life–really emphasizing the length of her limbs.
Things to think about How does your eye travel through this painting? What kinds of tricks does Parmagianino use to help your eye along this path?