Parmigianino’s Madonna of the Long Neck is a renowned painting from 1534 that marked the rise of Mannerist art. The painting depicts the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus, accompanied by angels and St. Jerome. Interestingly, the Madonna’s neck appears elongated; this unique feature that has earned it its name.
Commissioned as an altarpiece for a private chapel in Parma, Italy, this masterpiece displays Parmigianino’s extraordinary artistic prowess in using sensuality and decoration to promote an anti-Classical perspective. Arguably one of his best-known works, at first glance, it is easy to see why some critics call it unconventional and controversial.
The painting evokes strong emotions by showcasing attention-grabbing design elements such as slender forms, stark contrasts between light and dark shades or chiaroscuro effects making shadows look darker than usual areas. Additionally, Parmigianino plays freely with form and structure without being bound by rigid rules or conventions laid out by Renaissance artists such as Michelangelo Buonarroti or Leonardo da Vinci at the time.