On this Date in History, August 24: Birth of Lavinia Fontana, death of Parmigianino

What happened in the arts on this date in history, August 24? Italian Renaissance Painter Lavinia Fontana was born in Bologna in 1552, this date also marks the death of the Mannerist painter Parmigianino in 1540.

Lavinia Fontana (August 24, 1552 – August 11, 1614) was an Italian Renaissance painter who was born and trained in Bologna, a city which provided more opportunities for women. 

She first studied painting under her father, Prospero, who studied under the famous Giorgio Vasari.  Prospero Fontana also taught Ludovico Caracci.  Later Ludovico and other members of the Caracci family opened one of the first art schools in Europe, the Accademia degli Incamminati in 1580.  Fontana married and had 11 children, her husband Paolo Zappi worked as both her studio assistant and main caretaker for them.  Fontana supported their family through her painting, while this was quite unusual for the time Paolo recognized and supported her great talent as a painter.

After Cardinal Ippolito Aldobrandini became Pope Clement VIII in 1592, she and her family moved to Rome in the early 17th century when he called for her to work for him.  She was very highly regarded, successful and sought after as an artist.

Portrait of a Noblewoman, Lavinia Fontana, 1580,
National Museum of Women in the Arts

Parmigianino (January 11, 1503 – August 24 1540) died on this day in 1540.  Born as Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola, he got his nickname as he was from the city of Parma.

Madonna with the Long Neck, Parmigianino, 1534-40, Uffizi Gallery, Florence

The Italian Mannerist painter known as Parmigianino painted many works, his portraits were quite realistic, but today his most famous painting is a work which has come to be known as the Madonna with the Long Neck.  Mannerism was the style that directly followed the High Renaissance and is known for figures with elongated limbs, bright unnatural colors and asymmetrical, crowded compositions.  The style was considered elegant and was favored by the Medici family, though today it is often thought of as much less harmonious than the High Renaissance.  Mannerist painters were influenced greatly by similar elements within the work of Michelangelo.  Parmigianino's Madonna is one of the most well known Italian Mannerist Paintings.

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