Title

Metamorphosis: Examining Parmigianino’s 'Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror'

Description/Abstract/Artist Statement

In the year 1524, Italian painter Francesco Mazzola, also referred to as Parmigianino, created Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. According to Giorgio Vasari, the self-portrait was a gift for Pope Clement VII during Parmigianino’s travel to Rome. In Genevieve Warwick’s article, “Looking in the Mirror of Renaissance Art,” the process behind Parmigianino’s painting is discussed. The composition of the self-portrait entices the viewer to think about production, and the process of viewing and making art. In 1997, Norman E. Land wrote the article “Parmigianino as Narcissus,” in this article Land suggests that Parmigianino’s Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, is both a portrayal of Narcissus and a representation of the vice Vanity. Land explains that Narcissus was the first painter and compares his attempt to embrace his reflection on the surface of the water to Parmigianino’s desire to embrace nature. In addition, Land argues that the mirror within the composition is attributed to the representation of Vanity and self-obsession. With the concept of Vanity in mind, this paper argues that Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror depicts Parmigianino’s transformation as an artist, from being the allegorical embodiment of Vanity, to that of Prudence. Parmigianino depicts his transformation from vice to virtue through symbolism attributed to alchemy, a practice that later consumed his life. By closely examining the composition of the self-portrait, the iconography embedded within the work, and the rise in alchemical traditions in Italy at the time, this paper will prove how Parmigianino transformed from Vanity to Prudence, and mercury to gold.

Presenting Author Name/s

Kayla Cochran

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Anne Muraoka

College Affiliation

College of Arts & Letters

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Disciplines

Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture

Session Title

Art History 1: The Art of Transformation

Location

Zoom

Start Date

3-19-2022 1:00 PM

End Date

3-19-2022 2:00 PM

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Mar 19th, 1:00 PM Mar 19th, 2:00 PM

Metamorphosis: Examining Parmigianino’s 'Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror'

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In the year 1524, Italian painter Francesco Mazzola, also referred to as Parmigianino, created Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. According to Giorgio Vasari, the self-portrait was a gift for Pope Clement VII during Parmigianino’s travel to Rome. In Genevieve Warwick’s article, “Looking in the Mirror of Renaissance Art,” the process behind Parmigianino’s painting is discussed. The composition of the self-portrait entices the viewer to think about production, and the process of viewing and making art. In 1997, Norman E. Land wrote the article “Parmigianino as Narcissus,” in this article Land suggests that Parmigianino’s Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, is both a portrayal of Narcissus and a representation of the vice Vanity. Land explains that Narcissus was the first painter and compares his attempt to embrace his reflection on the surface of the water to Parmigianino’s desire to embrace nature. In addition, Land argues that the mirror within the composition is attributed to the representation of Vanity and self-obsession. With the concept of Vanity in mind, this paper argues that Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror depicts Parmigianino’s transformation as an artist, from being the allegorical embodiment of Vanity, to that of Prudence. Parmigianino depicts his transformation from vice to virtue through symbolism attributed to alchemy, a practice that later consumed his life. By closely examining the composition of the self-portrait, the iconography embedded within the work, and the rise in alchemical traditions in Italy at the time, this paper will prove how Parmigianino transformed from Vanity to Prudence, and mercury to gold.