Parmigianino was the leading painter of Parma after Correggio, and is celebrated as one of the originators and leading exponents of Mannerism. He was indebted also to the work of Raphael and Michelangelo, evolving a personal manner, expressive and stylish, that influenced later painters in Italy and, by means of his widely disseminated etchings, throughout Europe.
Born as Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola at Parma, where he was trained by his father and two uncles, he dis-played even in his earliest works a skill at draftsmanship and a refined elegance that became hallmarks of his mature work. By the age of 20 he had come under the influence of the older artist Correggio. In 1524 he went to Rome to study ancient art and the modern works of Raphael and Michelangelo. He also presented to Pope Clement VII one of the most striking and unusual of his paintings, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, which reproduces with remarkable sophistication the effects of the mirror on the image. The sack of Rome by an impe-rial army in 1527 disrupted the papal court and caused the young artist to move to Bologna and then back to Parma, where he produced his most famous painting, the Madonna with the Long Neck (ca. 1535), strikingly mannerist in its bold use of exaggerated, elongated forms and proportions that do not conform to the expectations of a viewer familiar with the works of his High Renaissance predecessors.