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How Is Fashion in American

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The next Mannerist example that we will examine is Parmigianino's "Madonna with the Long Neck" painted in 1535. This oil painting truly epitomizes the Mannerist style and is the artist's most famous work. His use of color and the 3-d pyramid are in line with the High Renaissance formula, and the work of Raphael is said to have influenced Parmigianino a great deal. Like Raphael's Madonnas, Parmigianino's Virgin embodies sweetness and grace. Her small oval face with large eyes and pink, bow-like lips is incredibly idealized. But this is where the similarities end.

Parmigianino's elongation of the figure's hands and neck and his placement of her tiny head on a colossal body distorts this sweet, calm Madonna into a rather frightening figure. Not only is the Madonna colossal but so is the Christ child whose extremely large and elongated body seems disconnected from its head. Next you may notice that the Virgin and child are completely out of scale, especially when compared to the figures around them.

The figures on the left-hand side are smaller than the Madonna, but share her idealized distortion.

Look at the figure holding a large jar on the far left.This feminine creature is actually St. John The Baptist who holds a classicized water jar, a symbol of baptism. His leg is impossibly long. Although the modern viewer may find these distorted physical forms unattractive or even grotesque, Parmigianino's aristocratic patron would have whole-heartily approved. From the Early Renaissance through the Baroque period, aristocratic taste tended to favor elegant, often exaggerated curvilinear forms, especially when applied to the hands, necks and feet of figures. These extremities were thought to be indicators of elegance and grace.

While the figures in this painting are certainly strange, their setting is even more so. It is very ambiguous. The right side of the composition seems to have nothing to do with the left. It is as if they are two entirely different scenes. What is going on here? Where is this place and who is that little man? The figure may be a prophet because he is holding a scroll, presumably reading his prophecy. The odd column without a capital in the background seems to belie any attempt by the artist to create perspective. If the prophet is represented in small scale to denote distance from the Madonna, then why is the column so large? Thus, the setting, scale, and perspective are entirely ambiguous, just a few more elements that make "Madonna of the Long Neck" a prime example of the Mannerist style.



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