A Sheet of 8 etchings Melancholy

Francesco Mazzola alias Parmigianino

Collezione Fondazione Cariparma

Collezione Fondazione Cariparma
Parma, Italy

The sheet, of heavy laid paper, has an unidentified watermark, but similar to others produced in Italy between 1520 and 1530. It comes from the personal collection of Antonio Lafreri (1512 - 1577) who was an engraver and publisher in Rome. The eight small prints, which are part of Parmigianino's engravings corpus, are laid out on a single sheet. The artists printed multiple plates on the same sheet and then they trimmed individual images for the collectors' market. Considering the rarity of each single etching, this specimen is probably unique in the world.

According to scholars, the young woman sitting in a brooding attitude could be St. Thais, an attractive repentant prostitute from Alexandria, the penitent Magdalene, as the vase in the background might suggest, or simply a study of a figure. The young woman appears enclosed by the outline, while she's gracefully holding up her head with her hand and she's expressing an intimate restlessness. Her mournful attitude, underlined by the powerful chiaroscuro effects, makes the image particularly poetic.


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