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Francesco Mazzola, 1503 Parma - 1540 Casal Maggiore

Circle of. A Group of Women in an Interior at their Needlework. Etching and burin. 13.4 x 17.9 cm. 1554. Undescribed. Watermark: Crossed arrows with star (cf. Briquet 6300–02, Verona, after 1542).

This charming and evocative print, which was probably executed by an anonymous northern Italian artist, is an interesting example of the reception of Parmigianino’s work in the decades following his death in 1540. Although the style of the unknown artist is quite sturdy and crude, the intimate scene exerts an undeniable fascination. A young mother is sitting with her four daughters in a kind of loggia with a view over the foothills of the Alps. The women are busy with their sewing and embroidery, activities suggestive of domestic harmony and virtue. A little dog, a traditional symbol of loyalty, lies at the feet of the youngest girl. The women’s elegant upswept hairstyles, the cut of their clothes and the ornamental vases, including a very Parmigianesque jug, hint at noble origin. Stylistically the print is remotely reminiscent of the work of Angelo Falcone (1507 Rovereto – 1567 Verona), who worked as a painter and etcher all his life, mainly in Verona. The fact that he was a native of Emilia probably explains the closeness to Parmigianino’s art. Bartsch records a total of twenty prints, which he erroneously associated with the Neapolitan painter Aniello Falcone. Individual details, like the rendering of the ringlets, the shape and gestures of the hands and the use of simple, vertical parallel strokes to indicate shadow (compare for example Bartsch 2–4) are clearly reminiscent of Falcone’s style, which itself appears remarkably incongruent and still does raise many questions.

A very fine, tonal impression, with touches of burr throughout, with margins around the platemark. Minimal aging, otherwise in excellent condition.

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