The Lovers

Artist: Parmigianino (Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola) (Italian, Parma 1503–1540 Casalmaggiore)

Date: 1527-1530

Medium: Etching; second state of two

Dimensions: 5 7/8 x 4 1/8 in. (14.9 x 10.5 cm)

Classification: Prints

Credit Line: Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1926

Accession Number: 26.70.3(102)


Following the example of Raphael, Parmigianino had a great interest in using prints to disseminated knowledge of his designs. In Rome, he produced drawings for Giovanni Jacopo Caraglio (Italian, ca. 1500/1505–1565) to translate into engravings, while in Bologna he may have drawn directly on the woodblocks carved by Antonio da Trento (Italian, active 1520s–30s) to produce chiaroscuro woodcuts. Parmigianino's involvement in printmaking went even further when, sometime in the mid-1520s, he took up the etching needle himself to experiment with this new technique. He was the first Italian to exploit the possibilities of etching, in which lines are freely scratched through a waxy ground, to directly translate the draftsman's manner. He produced no more than fifteen etchings, yet his example was to inspire the future development of a distinctly Italian printmaking tradition. This is one of Parmigianino's most beautiful prints, that demonstrates his sensitivity to landscape, as well as his characteristically graceful and elongated figure types.