The Entombment of Christ
24.4 cm x 18.8 cm (9 5/8 in. x 7 3/8 in.)
Parmigianino (Francesco Mazzola)
(Parma, Italy, 1503 - 1540, Casalmaggiore, Italy)
Medium and Support:
Oil on wood panel
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection, 2017
Parmigianino was the most elegant and refined of all sixteenth-century Italian artists. Provincial but inspired by his visionary compatriot Correggio, he tended from the outset toward eccentric form and idiosyncratic expression. Affected by Raphael during a sojourn in Rome, his style became more self-conscious and rigorous. Increasingly abstracted and impossibly beautiful, Parmigianino’s late works determined the course of Mannerism and remained the measure of high artifice through the eighteenth century. His etchings were the first to essay the technique’s conceptual relation with drawing and potential for original expression.
This small panel is the most important surviving link between Parmigianino’s painting and printmaking. It was once regarded as a copy after his most developed and famous etching. The two compositions, however, differ in numerous details, and the elaboration of the panel departs from a loose underdrawing in dark pigment—indicative of an evolving rather than a derivative conception. The quality of the painting is confirmed by the soundness of its figures, the modulation of light, and the incisiveness of touch. Still close to Raphael’s designs, the painting was probably executed in Rome. Later, in Bologna, it would have served as the model for the etching.