Italian painter and etcher. One of the leading Mannerists, he painted religious subjects and portraits in a sensual style, his slender, elongated figures being graceful and aristocratic. An example is his Madonna of the Long Neck about 1535 (Uffizi, Florence). He was one of the first Italian artists to make original etchings.
Early work and influences A member of an artist family and taught by his uncles, he became one of the most distinguished of the Mannerist followers of Correggio, though he was also influenced by Raphael and Michelangelo, exaggerating the height and slenderness of his figures gracefully. His early work was done in Parma, where he decorated the south transept of the cathedral in 1522.
Rome In 1523 he went to Rome, being employed by Clement VII, and is said to have been painting his Vision of St Jerome (National Gallery, London) when imperialist troops burst into his studio during the sack of the city in 1527. He was able to escape without harm to Bologna and returned to Parma in 1531. From then on he was meant to be occupied with frescoes in the church of Santa Maria della Staccata, but delayed so long in their execution that he was finally thrown into prison for breach of contract. On his release he fled to Casal Maggiore, where he died soon afterwards.
Drawings and etchings The etchings of his works were important in spreading the Mannerist style throughout Europe. His drawings were numerous and much prized by English collectors in the 17th and 18th centuries, and he also produced original etchings and designs from which chiaroscuro woodcuts were made.
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