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This artist, who came from Parma, is considered one of the most progressive painters in the 1st half of the 16th century in Upper Italy, Parmigianino’s work provides a transition from the Renaissance to Mannerism, and the effects of his delicate and extravagant formal language were still being felt in the art of Rudolf II’s court in Prague (ca. 1600).Parmigianino presented this self-portrait, painted on a convex wooden surface, along with two other small-format works to Pope Clement VII in the summer of 1524. He was ultimately unsuccessful in this attempt to gain prestigious and lucrative commissions from the Vatican, but even in the 16th century this unusual portrait was a widely recognised testimony to his talent. The work had a number of other prominent owners before entering the collection of Rudolf II in 1608, among them Pietro Aretino, Andrea Palladio and Alessandro Vittoria. “More like an angel than a man” is Giorgio Vasari’s description of Parmigianino in his artists’ lives of 1568, and thus the 21-year-old presents himself to the viewer. His artist’s hand (actually his left hand, although it seems to be his right) is distorted but impressively enlarged in the foreground, but he excludes the depiction of his head from the optical effect of the convex mirror. The bare studio in the background, however, is reflected by the barber’s mirror, by this time already old-fashioned, with which the artist was working here. Another ingenious aspect is seen at the extreme right edge of the painting: a gilt frame, itself a part of the artwork that is currently being created on Parmigianino’s easel. © Cäcilia Bischoff, Masterpieces of the Picture Gallery. A Brief Guide to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 2010

Details

  • Title: Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror
  • Creator: Francesco Mazzola, called Parmigianino
  • Date Created: 1523/1524
  • Style: Italian Mannerism
  • Provenance: 1608 Vermächtnis des Bildhauers Alessandro Vittoria an Kaiser Rudolf II
  • Inventory Number: GG 286
  • Artist Biography: Parmigianino, born Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola in Parma, Italy, became Italy's most influential Mannerist painter in his brief twenty-year career. His father and uncles taught him the techniques of painting, and by age sixteen he had already completed an altarpiece for a local church. Beginning in 1520, the celebrated Renaissance artist Correggio became his primary inspiration. Scholars believe that the younger artist may have assisted Correggio with his frescoes at a church in Parma, where Parmigianino may also have completed his own frescoes. In 1524 Parmigianino visited Rome to present a self-portrait to Pope Clement VII. There the young artist experienced Raphael and Michelangelo's art firsthand, and his style became more grand, elegant, and noble. Following the Sack of Rome in 1527, Parmigianino escaped to Bologna, but within three years he had returned to Parma, where he received a commission to paint frescoes in another church. At this time, according to some accounts, Parmigianino became a devotee of alchemy, transforming himself into a lunatic and completing little work at the church. He was imprisoned after nearly a decade of slow progress but escaped. Scholars believe that Parmigianino was the first Italian artist to make etchings, and his work significantly influenced the art of printmaking. ©J. Paul Getty Trust
  • Type: paintings
  • External Link: http://www.khm.at/en/collections/picture-gallery
  • Medium: Oil on Wood

Additional Items

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (Supplemental)

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (Supplemental)

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (Supplemental)

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (Supplemental)

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (Supplemental)

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (Supplemental)

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (Supplemental)

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