The Drawings and Engravings from the ENSBA Exhibited in Rouen

1. Francesco Mazzuola,
dit Le Parmesan (1503-1540)
Tête de jeune homme
Pastel - 28 x 19 cm
Paris, Ecole nationale supérieure des beaux-arts
Photo : Ensba

24/11/11 - Exhibition - Rouen, Musée des Beaux-Arts - The hang from the Cabinet Jean Bonna at the Ecole nationale supérieure des beaux-arts highlighting Parmigianino’s drawings and engravings is currently on exhibition at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen (before traveling to Ajaccio) where we were able to see it after having missed the show in Paris. This is a good opportunity to once again point out the importance of these exhibitions which are systematically accompanied by a very useful catalogue.

This last publication confirms the fact, offering an in-depth study of the artist’s collection at the ENSBA, as well as about ten sheets belonging to the Swiss collector. Although the last group is not shown in Rouen, engravings owned by the city’s museum have been added to the display. The number of items is thus small but their quality more than makes up for this. Parmigianino was indeed a remarkable draughtsman but also a fascinating engraver who worked directly with acid, in collaboration with Ugo da Carpi, Giuseppi Niccolo Rossigliani, known as Vicentino, and especially Antonio da Trento, for these engravings in chiaro-oscuro which give their name to the exhibition. This technique consists in carving three or four plates in wood, based on a drawing, each in a different color of ink. Their impression on the same sheet results in a work which has almost the same aspect as that of a wash drawing.

2. Ugo da Carpi (vers 1468/70-1532)
d’après Francesco Mazzuola,
dit Le Parmesan (1503-1540)
Diogenes, about 1526-1527
Wood engraving - 47 x 34.5 cm
Paris, Ecole nationale supérieure des beaux-arts
Photo : Ensba

The ENSBA collections hold several masterpieces in both techniques. Of the ten drawings, we would like to point out notably a Head of a Young Man in pastel (ill. 1), rarely seen in Parmigianino’s œuvre, and a red-chalk preparatory study for the Christ child in Saint Jerome’s Vision from the National Gallery in London. The engravings, mostly from the Jean Masson collection, are all spectacular. Some, like Diogenes by Ugo da Carpi (ill. 2), or The Martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul by Antonio da Trento are presented in two different stages, in slightly different colors. This shows that, though these are multiples, the different quality in the impression and the manner in which the colors are placed on the sheet (in passing we should admire the incredible skill and precision of the engravers who carved several wood panels which could be superimposed perfectly) make each sheet a unique work.

Collective work, Parmesan. Dessins et gravures en clair-obscur, Editions Beaux-Arts de Paris, 2011, 160 p., 22€. ISBN : 9782840563464. Museum site.

The exhibition is showing at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen until 18 December 2011. It will then travel to the Musée Fesch in Ajaccio, from 28 June until 1st October 2012.

Version française

Didier Rykner, dimanche 27 novembre 2011

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