parmigianino madonna with the long neck
Madonna With the Long Neck (also referred to as “Madonna and Child with Angels and St. Jerome”) is generally regarded as Parmigianino’s masterpiece. It was commissioned by Elena Baiardi, as an altarpiece for her private chapel in the church of Santa Maria dei Servi at Parma. It was started in 1534 and completed at Pentecost in 1535, but it reached its intended destination only after the artist’s death. Hence it is often referred to as ‘unfinished’. Described as lyrical and aloof with a cool but polished colour, it achieved widespread fame during the sixteenth century and in 1698 it was acquired by Ferdinando de’ Medici, Grand Prince of Tuscany. It has been in the Uffizi since 1948.
The Burial of Count Orgaz (1586-88) by El Greco.
Depicts the legendary funeral of Don Gonzalo de Ruiz with Saint Stephen and Saint Augustine.
Baby Jesus appears as a abnormally large and long baby that lays motionless, appearing dead, upon his mother’s lap. This disturbing portrayal of Jesus is better understood when compating it to the “Pieta” by Michaelangelo. In the “Pieta” Jesus is a grown man who lays dead across the lap of his mother Mary with his arm dangling motionlessly over her lap. This portrayal of Jesus is mirrored in “The Madonna of the Long Neck” as the baby Jesus appears dead and laying lefelessly across Mary’s lap with his arm hanging over in the same manner. By mirroring the style used in the “Pieta” a foreshadowing of what is to come for the baby Jesus is being communicated to the viewer
“Madonna of the Long neck”, painted by Parmagianino, providied a initially disturbing impression of the Madonna and baby Jesus, but upon closer examination and understanding the beauty of the painting is revealed. Parmagianino uses a mannerist style in his painting which displays a very disproportionate and skewed depth sense to the viewer. Rather than taking art from nature, such as in the Renaissance, Mannerism takes art from art. This is what Paragianino does in this painting, as we can see close resemblence of this painting with the past work of Michaelangelo’s Pieta. Parmagiano takes the beauty and naturalism of the Renaissance and exaggerates it into an elegant mannerist depiction.
The painting is popularly called Madonna of the Long Neck because “the painter, in his eagerness to make the Holy Virgin look graceful and elegant, has given her a neck like that of a swan.”  On the unusual arrangement of figures, Austrian-British art historian E. H. Gombrich writes:
The Madonna with the Long Neck (Italian: Madonna dal collo lungo), also known as Madonna and Child with Angels and St. Jerome, is an Italian Mannerist oil painting by Parmigianino, dating from c. 1535-1540 and depicting Madonna and Child with angels. The painting was begun in 1534 for the funerary chapel of Francesco Tagliaferri  in Parma, but remained incomplete on Parmigianino’s death in 1540. Ferdinando de’ Medici, Grand Prince of Tuscany, purchased it in 1698 and it has been on display at the Uffizi since 1948. 
The Madonna and Angels:
The Madonna does not have normal human proportions; her neck, shoulders and fingers have all been elongated to make her appear more elegant and graceful. Her hair is also elaborately curled and decorated with pearls to frame her beautiful face and complexion. The robes she is wearing are luxurious and flowing.
Madonna with the Long Neck
The visionary power of the Virgin and Child, blessing into the space through a halo of clearing cloud, is hard to overstate. Because the figures are rendered with a slightly shimmering, blurred effect, the vision plays tricks with our perception, seemingly defying our earthly power of sight. We feel literally blinded by divine light. Gould called this the picture’s “element of genius; the focal point – the vision itself – is actually out of focus. As a result the vision really is a vision.” It is a remarkable achievement, and one that is exclusive to Parmigianino during the Renaissance. Whilst his peers and predecessors sought aesthetic perfection, the “Little One of Parma” wanted to amaze, confound, appal, and transcend. With this picture, he may have achieved his goal.
The glass chose to reflect only what he saw
Which was enough for his purpose: his image
Glazed, embalmed, projected at 180-degree angle.
The time of day or the density of the light
Adhering to the face keeps it
Lively and intact in a recurring wave
Of arrival. The soul establishes itself.
But how far can it swim out through our eyes