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The Artistic Heritage of Modena: Wounded Art


The Annunciation

Attributed to Parmigianino (Italian, Parma 1503–1540 Casalmaggiore)

Oil on wood
33 3/8 x 23 1/8 in. (84.8 x 58.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Gwynne Andrews Fund, James S. Deely Gift, special funds, and other gifts and bequests, by exchange, 1982
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    Unusual for showing the annunciation of Christ’s birth as taking place in the Virgin’s bedroom at night, by candlelight, this vibrant oil sketch is rapidly painted on a rough panel and incorporates numerous changes. Although it is related to an altarpiece painted by Parmigianino’s cousin Girolamo Mazzola Bedoli (ca. 1500–1569) for a church near Parma, its high quality is worthy of Parmigianino himself, and it has been suggested that he painted it shortly before his death in 1540.

    For an image of the finished altarpiece, see metmuseum.org/collections.

  • Catalogue Entry


  • Provenance

    Hon. John Spencer, Althorp, Northampton (by 1742–d. 1746; inv., 1742, unnumbered, as by Parmigianino; inv., 1746, no. 299); his son, John Spencer, later (from 1765) 1st Earl Spencer, Althorp (1746–d. 1783; inv., 1750, unnumbered); the Earls Spencer, Althorp (1783–1975; cat., 1822, p. 277); Edward John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer, Althorp (1975–81; cat., 1976, no. 40, as by Bedoli; sold to Thaw); [E. V. Thaw, New York, 1981–82; sold to MMA]

  • Exhibition History

    Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna. "Nell'età di Correggio e dei Carracci: pittura in Emilia dei secoli XVI e XVII," September 10–November 10, 1986, no. 63.

    Washington. National Gallery of Art. "The Age of Correggio and the Carracci: Emilian Painting of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries," December 19, 1986–February 16, 1987, no. 63.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Correggio and the Carracci: Emilian Painting of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries," March 26–May 24, 1987, no. 63.

  • References

    A List of Pictures Belonging to the Hon. John Spencer, Scheduled for Mortgage. 1742, unnumbered [published in Ref. Garlick 1976, p. 93], lists it as "The Salutation" by Parmigianino.

    Catalogue of the Pictures at Althorpe and Wimbledon Belonging to the Late Honble Mr Spencer. 1746, no. 299 [published in Ref. Garlick 1976, p. 102], as "The Salutation" by Parmigianino.

    A Catalogue of the Pictures of Althorp Taken in the Year 1750. 1750, unnumbered [published in Ref. Garlick 1976, p. 111], lists it as by Parmigianino.

    Horace Walpole. Journal of Visits to Country Seats. August 1760 [published in "Horace Walpole's Journals of Visits to Country Seats, &c.," Paget Toynbee, ed. Walpole Society 16 (1927–28), p. 31], mentions seeing it at Althorp and refers to it as "Salutation by Parmegiano, not very fine".

    Sir William Hamilton. Letter to Charles Greville. August 2, 1774 [published in "The Hamilton & Nelson Papers," vol. 1, 1893, in "The Collection of Autograph Letters and Historical Documents formed by Alfred Morrison," 13 vols., London, 1883–97, letter no. 37], relates it to a painting of Saint Catherine of Siena by Parmigianino in the Baranello collection in Naples, noting that the picture at Althorp "cost his Lordship's father a great sum".

    Thomas Frognall Dibdin. Aedes Althorpianae; or an Account of the Mansion, Books and Pictures, at Althorp. . . . London, 1822, vol. 1, p. 277, as by Parmigianino.

    Kenneth Garlick. "A Catalogue of Pictures at Althorp." Walpole Society 45 (1974–76), pp. 5–6, no. 40, pl. 24, attributes it to Bedoli and calls it a replica of his altarpiece from the church of Santa Maria Annunciata, Viadana (now Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples).

    Keith Christiansen in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1982–1983. New York, 1983, pp. 38–39, ill. (color), as attributed to Parmigianino; dates it to the last year of the artist's life; states that it later served as a "modello" (the only such work that can tentatively be ascribed to Parmigianino) for Bedoli's Viadana altarpiece; discusses differences between the modello and the altarpiece which indicate that they are by two different artists; mentions a drawing in the Uffizi, Florence, made after the MMA picture.

    Keith Christiansen in The Age of Correggio and the Carracci: Emilian Painting of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1986, pp. 174–76, no. 63, ill. (color) [Italian ed., "Nell'età di Correggio e dei Carracci: pittura in Emilia dei secoli XVI e XVII," Bologna, 1986], relates it to other works by Parmigianino.

    Elizabeth Cropper. "New York, Metropolitan Museum: The Age of Correggio and the Carracci." Burlington Magazine 129 (April 1987), p. 271, fig. 55, notes that the evidence of Parmigianino's preparatory studies lends support to the attribution to Parmigianino, and adds that if the picture is by Parmigianino, it reveals a new aspect of his work.

    S[ydney]. J. Freedberg. "Parmigianino Problems in the Exhibition (and Related Matters)." Emilian Painting of the 16th and 17th Centuries. Bologna, 1987, pp. 44–46, fig. 1, rejects the attribution to Parmigianino, calling it a "modello" by Bedoli.

    Nicole Dacos. "La tappa emiliana dei pittori fiamminghi e qualche inedito di Josse van Winghe." Lelio Orsi e la cultura del suo tempo. Bologna, 1990, pp. 35–37, 39, fig. 1, rejects the attribution to Parmigianino, ascribing the picture to the Flemish painter Joos van Winghe (born about 1544, died 1603).

    Anna Coliva. "Gli affreschi dei palazzi di Poli e di Bolsena: Prospero Fontana nell'ambito delle committenze farnesiane." Bollettino d'arte nos. 80–81 (July–October 1993), pp. 51–54 n. 48, fig. 50, ascribes the picture to Prospero Fontana, comparing it with "The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine" (Gemäldegalerie, Wiesbaden).

    Cecil Gould. Parmigianino. New York, 1994, p. 195, no. C10, calls it a model by Bedoli for his Viadana altarpiece.

    Sydney J. Freedberg in La pittura in Emilia e in Romagna: il Cinquecento, un romanzo polifonico tra Riforma e Controriforma. Milan, 1995, p. 85, mentions Dacos's [see Ref. 1990] attribution to Van Winghe positively and again rejects an attribution to Parmigianino.

    Mario Di Giampaolo. Girolamo Bedoli, 1500–1569. Florence, 1997, p. 127, under no. 23, finds the attribution to Van Winghe convincing.

    Maria Cristina Chiusa. Parmigianino. Milan, 2001, p. 212, fig. 186, calls it a neo-Mannerist work, close to Andrea Donducci, il Mastelletta (1575–1655).

    Mary Vaccaro. Parmigianino: The Paintings. Turin, 2002, pp. 220–21, no. A9, ill., finds the attribution to Van Winghe more convincing than one to either Parmigianino or Bedoli.

    Andrea Bayer. "North of the Apennines: Sixteenth-Century Italian Painting in Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 60 (Spring 2003), pp. 59, 61–64, figs. 40 (color), 42 (x-radiograph detail).

    James Grantham Turner. "An Erotic 'Annunciation' by Parmigianino or Bedoli." Source: Notes in the History of Art 29 (Winter 2010), pp. 21, 24–26, fig. 1, proposes that the composition is based on Gian Giacomo Caraglio's engraving "Mercury, Aglaurus, and Herse" from the series "The Loves of the Gods".

  • Notes

    This painting was used by Parmigianino's disciple and relative Girolamo Mazzola Bedoli (born about 1500, died about 1569–70) as a "modello" for his altarpiece for the church of Santa Maria Annunciata, Viadana, near Parma (now Museo di Capodimonte, Naples), painted in about 1550.

    There is a drawing after the MMA painting in the Gabinetto dei Disegni, Museo degli Uffizi, Florence (inv. no. 9178).

  • See also