Renaissance Art Parmigianino

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The Renaissance period of art was defined by a diversity of technical styles and ever expanding experimentation in terms of technique, color palettes, and the treatment of human interaction. In the rear most gallery of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is exhibited a painting attributed to the artist Parmigianino. It is titled the Annunciation and depicts the angel Gabriel coming to Mary announcing the birth of the Christ child. This striking rendition of the Annunciation uses an un-naturalistic color palette, exaggerated human form, and an intense theatricality based on both the staging of the characters in the exaggerated foreground and background, as well as through the use of a light source depicted on canvas. Upon first looking at this painting it is apparent that the colors exhibited in the artist's palette deviate from the quintessential Renaissance painting. The flesh tones of the artwork appear pallid and not as the rich realistic flesh tones seen throughout the Met gallery in other High Renaissance paintings. The skin is rendered with a pigment that includes a yellow and green tint. This color is not due to age, but rather a distinct decision by the artist to deviate from a realism of depicting the human body. The flesh tones seen in the angel's bare back, the neck of the Madonna, and in the Christ child exhibit this pallid hue. In the case of the Christ child this appears appropriate considering the scene was before the time of birth approximating a “divine fetus”. However, the flesh tones of the angel and the Madonna do not appear lifelike. The pigment choice of the artist is further revealed as intentional and meaningful when examining the colors employed to depict the garments of the Angel Gabriel, the Madonna, and the... ... middle of paper ... ...point of this triangle of light exists on the crown of the Madonna's head and activates the eye downwards until it powerfully illuminates the face of the figure. This use of sfumato and illuminating light creates a compositional balance within the canvas and demonstrates the advanced technique and sophistication employed by the artist in the creation of this artwork. This painting has deviated from the standard Renaissance model in that it goes beyond depicting subjects and scene, and employs exaggerated form, color emphasis, abnormal planar depiction, and visual directionality. The aspects of this painting have become the embodiment of the story told and the characters there held. The artist has used various techniques of color, line, and juxtaposition in order to portray an idea which supersedes the sum of its parts, and thereby leads the viewer through a thought.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how the pigment choice of the artist is deliberate and meaningful to the delivery method by which meaning is derived from this painting even in instances of complete ignorance regarding the catholic faith.
  • Analyzes how parmigianino distorts scientific anatomy to portray both angelic androgyny and the feminine ideal of the madonna.
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