46. Francesco Mazzuola, called Parmigianino

Parme 1503 – 1540 Casalmaggiore

A Pair of Lovers, Seated

This work by Parmigianino is one of his most admired drawings, and was reproduced as an engraving as early as the eighteenth century. The artist seems to have wanted to show the two figures as close together as possible, even reducing the space available for the man’s legs to such an extent that they disappear behind the woman’s body. Combined with the sensitively-drawn joined hands in the centre of the image, this proximity expresses a spontaneous intimacy that was rare in sixteenth-century art. More­over, the drawing was for many years considered to be a self-portrait of Parmigianino with his mistress. There is an undeniable similarity between the profile depicted here and portraits of this brilliant representative of the Man­nerist style, but it is impossible to be sure that this is in­deed the artist.