Parma in the times of the Farnese

Parma, Florence, Rome: the arts in the time of the Farnese.

In 1500 the dominance of Milan over Parma came to an end and, thanks to Alessandro Farnese, Bishop of the city between 1509 and 1534, a new period opened of approach first towards Florence and then to Rome, sanctioned by subjection to the States of the Church. Having become Pope and taken the name Paolo III in 1545 he founded the Duchy conferring it on his illegitimate son, the merciless Pier Luigi.

The change in orbit towards central Italy, which was a common phenomenon throughout Emilia, was reflected in artistic taste. The Cardinal’s stays in Parma stimulated patronage and influenced the local school. Parma passed under the yoke of Rome and the following year in 1522, Correggio frescoed the celebrated Coronation of the Virgin where the example of the Raphael rooms can be perceived. Echoes of the Roman experience can also be seen in the Turkish Slave (La Schiava Turca) by Parmigianino.

Dating from 1520 is the wholly Roman portrait painted by Lodovico Orsini of Francesco Salviati, but twenty years later the same Imperial iconography was evident in the representation of Alessandro Farnese embraced by the allegory of Parma, painted by one of the most brilliant local artists of the time, Girolamo Mazzola Bedoli. In the shadow of the main protagonists of the parmesan school other masters emerged: Francesco Maria Rondani and Michelangelo Anselmi.

While in Rome a vast collection was being established containing paintings by El Greco, Titian, Raphael and Giorgione, the Parma inventories from 1587 register the importance of the new Dukes in promoting the Emilian school, exalted for posterity and the public of the Grand Tour thanks to the celebrated Farnese Collection.

Photo credits
Giovanni Hänninen