Correggio and Parmigianino were two of the greatest masters of the Emilian school of early 16th-century Italy, renowned for their painterly effects and exquisite draftsmanship. A major exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Correggio and Parmigianino: Master Draftsmen of the Renaissance, marked the first time that a major selection of drawings by these two artists has been shown together. On view from February 6 through May 6, 2001, the exhibition featured more than 130 drawings – many exhibited for the first time – from British and North American public and private collections.
The exhibition was organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The British Museum.
Both artists worked extensively in Parma in northern Italy and, as a youth, Parmigianino almost certainly worked under Correggio. The exhibition will present a wide variety of drawings by both artists – rapid sketches, careful life studies, and spirited composition drafts, as well as monumental finished drawings – to illustrate the range of their creative powers. Many of the drawings included were preparatory for oil paintings and frescoes created in and around Parma that are now considered milestones in the history of Italian art.
In his day, Correggio (ca. 1489-1534) became famous for creating magical effects of light and shadow in his paintings and drawings, and especially for his technique of sfumato (the seamless blending of tones in the manner of smoke). Correggio's drawings are almost invariably related to his paintings and his studies reveal how he meticulously studied and refined each element of a composition on paper before executing the final work. Although his approach to drawing was essentially functional, Correggio's drawings, particularly those in his favored medium of red chalk are exquisitely pictorial and full of movement. His innovative drawing techniques would later be widely imitated by Baroque artists. Among the drawings by Correggio featured were his studies for the Camera di San Paolo, San Giovanni Evangelista, and the dome of Parma Cathedral.
Emerging from Correggio's powerful legacy, Parmigianino (1503-40) came into his own as a master of elegant figure drawing and as a leading artist of Mannerism. Parmigianino was an artist who, above all else, liked to draw and the selection of nearly 100 studies in the exhibition illustrate his dazzling facility in every medium. He was renowned for the fluency of his figural inventions, as is especially evident in his studies in pen and ink. The drawings by Parmigianino will include studies for the frescoes in the Rocca at Fontanellato and Santa Maria della Steccata, as well as for his celebrated panel,
The Madonna of the Long Neck.
From The New York Times (better read in its entirety):
A turning point in several senses was Correggio's
''Vision of St. John,'' the fresco for the cupola, which blew the roof off Renaissance illusionism and, it seemed, the basilica itself, creating an intoxicatingly convincing vision of Jesus descending from a golden sky toward a ring of awestruck apostles. Images of levitating bodies were nothing new, but no one before Correggio had so completely erased the lines between architectural and painted space and between real and depicted light or populated this ambiguous sphere with such dazzlingly mobile, flesh-and-blood figures.
Its revolutionary nature was not lost on Parmigianino, who made plans to go to Rome and from this point on did his best to be where Correggio wasn't. As the British art historian Cecil Gould has written, ''An indefinable mixture of admiration, envy and resentment of Correggio's greatness was to be perhaps the chief emotion of Parmigianino's life.''
Correggio and Parmigianino: Master Draftsmen of the Renaissance was accompanied by a catalogue illustrating all of the works in the exhibition in color, with a selection of comparative illustrations in black and white. Published by British Museum Press, the catalogue is co-authored by George R. Goldner, Hugo Chapman, Martin Clayton, and Carmen C. Bambach.
At the Metropolitan, the exhibition was organized by George R. Goldner, the Drue Heinz Chairman, and Carmen C. Bambach, Associate Curator, both of the Museum's Department of Drawings and Prints.
Prior to the presentation at the Metropolitan, the exhibition was on view at The British Museum from October 6, 2000 through January 7, 2001.