A Sheet of 8 etchings The Annunciation

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.

The subject is a kneeling young Mary who turns towards the dove of the Holy Spirit with a sinuous and graceful rotation. The archangel Gabriel has left after having brought his message; the angelic confabulation has now ended and Parmigianino portrays the moment of true conception, which for Mary translates into the mood of Grace, in the transformation from woman to mother of Christ. The light that emanates from the dove and pervades the entire composition is almost unreal, otherworldly, dazzling and imbues the atmosphere of sacredness.


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