Study of the Madonna and Child, Parmigianino
Study of the Madonna and Child
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Related external works


Raffael, Madonna di Foligno, 1512-1513, Tempera auf Holz (übertragen auf Leinwand), 308 x 198 cm. Rom, Città del Vaticano, Musei Vaticani, Pinacoteca Vaticana, Inv. Nr. 40329


Parmigianino, Madonna mit Johannes dem Täufer und dem heiligen Hieronymus, 1526/1527, Öl auf Pappelholz, 342,9 x 148,6 cm. London, National Gallery, Inv. Nr. NG33


Study of the Madonna and Child, ca. 1526 – 1530

275 x 196 mm
Physical Description
Brush in brown over black chalk, light-brown washes, on laid paper
Inventory Number
Object Number
4255 Z
Can be presented in the study room of the Graphische Sammlung (special opening hours)


About the Work

This 'Study of the Madonna' came from the collection of the founder of the Städel Institute, Johann Friedrich Städel (1728-1816), who owned several drawings by Parmigianino. The Italian painter, whom Giorgio Vasari, the artists' biographer during the Italian Renaissance, described as the "heir to Raphael's soul", was highly regarded during the eighteenth century. The reason for this may be that his elegantly Mannerist art demonstrates a certain proximity to the lightness of the Rococo, but it is also certainly due to Parmigianino's virtuosity in drawing, which had always been universally praised. The sensitive medium of drawing played a special role in the era of enlightenment and sensibility.

In the brush drawing, which is based on a light sketch in black chalk, Parmigianino investigates the work of his role model, Raphael. His Madonna, gazing down from her throne in the clouds, is gently holding the standing child. It can be traced back to Raphael's 'Madonna di Foligno' (ca. 1511/12), who also floats in the clouds. The firm, balanced physicality of Raphael's Madonna and the calm way in which she is seated is transformed in Parmigianino's drawing into a hovering figure striving to rise upwards. The elegant lightness is heightened by the drawing technique, which establishes a relationship between the fine, transparent brushwork transitions to the light colour of the paper, thus creating an effective contrast. This sheet is probably a relatively early study for one of Parmigianino's most important works, now in the National Gallery in London: 'Madonna and Child with Saints' from 1526/27 - but it could also have been produced somewhat later, after the artist was forced to move to Bologna following the Sack of Rome in 1527.

About the Acquisition

In March 1815, the Frankfurt businessman and banker Johann Friedrich Städel bequeathed his entire fortune and art collection to a foundation which was to be named after him: the 'Städelsches Kunstinstitut'. However, he also dedicated the foundation to the citizens of Frankfurt immaterially, wishing it to be an "adornment and of practical use" to Frankfurt's citizenry. He was thus the first ordinary citizen in the German-speaking region to found a public art museum: the present-day Städel Museum. When he died, his collection comprised 476 paintings, some 4,600 drawings, almost 10,000 printed graphics and valuable books.

Work Data

Basic Information

Study of the Madonna and Child
Period Produced
Object Type
Physical Description
Brush in brown over black chalk, light-brown washes, on laid paper
Geographic Reference
Production Reason
Label at the Time of Manufacture
Signiert unten rechts (mit der Feder in Braun): f parmesianno
Captions Added Later
Verso bezeichnet (mit Bleistift): Ec. venitienne
Verso Marke des Kunsthändlers Guillaume-Jean Constantin, Paris (Lugt 3000), mit eingestempelter Nummer 24; Stempel des Städelschen Kunstinstituts, Frankfurt am Main (Lugt 2356), mit zugehöriger Inventarnummer
  • Nicht geprüft
Work Catalogues
  • Gnann 2007.I.438.559
  • Popham 1971.I.80.142

Property and Acquisition

Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Picture Copyright
Public Domain

Work Content

Motifs and References

Main Motif
Persons Shown
Associated Persons and Institutions


  • 11F5 Madonna (i.e. Mary with the Christ-child) in the air, or on the clouds
  • 11F4221 Mary sitting or enthroned, the Christ-child standing on her knee (Christ-child to Mary's left)
  • 31B6212 looking downwards

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