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Camilla Gonzaga, Countess of San Secondo, and her Sons
Parmigianino. Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola and workshop
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Parmigianino. Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola and workshop

Parma, Emilia-Romagna, 1503 - Casalmaggiore, Cremona, Lombardy, 1540

Parmigianino. Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola See author's file

Camilla Gonzaga, Countess of San Secondo, and her Sons

1535 - 1537. Oil on panel.
Room 049

Camilla Gonzaga, daughter of Giovanni Gonzaga and cousin of Federigo II of Mantua, married Pier Maria de Rossi in 1523, with whom she had nine children. The children depicted in the present work are presumably the three eldest:Troilo, the eldest, who succeeded his father, standing next to the youngest of the three, Sigismondo, with Ippolito, the second eldest, on the other side. This is thought to be the first Italian portrait of a mother surrounded by her children as a representation of Charity comparable to a slightly earlier composition by Holbein. The association, however, is not particularly clear as Camilla does not even slightly reveal her breasts and none of the figures are looking at each other. This panel and the accompanying portrait of Pier Francesco III were together as a pair in the collection of the Marquis of Serra, but the significant difference of quality between the two has led to the suggestion that they were not originally devised as a pair.No early sources mention the portrait of the Countess and there is no known copy of it, whereas three copies are known of her husband’s portrait. In general, the present work is considered to be by Parmigianino and his workshop, although as Fadda noted, there are no references to its existence. Apart from Camilla’s face and those of the two children on her right, executed with extremely subtle glazes close to those found in the portrait of the Count, it cannot be said that this is a work entirely by Parmigianino’s hand.The face of the other brother was executed by a different artist, as can be seen in the different handling of the flesh tones and the dense, heavy brushstroke.This is also evident in the dull brushstrokes that create the touches of white on the Countess’ dress and the gold of her embroidery and jewellery, which are quite different to the very light brushstrokes of the slashed hose worn by the Count. Troilo was born around 1525, Ippolito in 1530 and Sigismondo in 1532.7 It is likely that the figure of Ippolito was added some years after those of Troilo and Sigismondo, given that there was a difference of five years between the two elder brothers, which is not evident in the painting, regardless of the different treatment of their faces.The similarity of the handling of Camilla’s face to the Antea in Capodimonte has led to a dating for the present work of around 1538-1540,8 but Troilo was born in 1525 and here he is depicted aged around ten or twelve, so the dating needs to be put back to around 1535- 1537. There is a drawing by Parmigianino of a young man that has not previously been related to the present work9 but which supports this dating as it shows Troilo as a teenager, full-face, and with the same pronounced oval jaw, hair style, long ear lobes, unusually curving, small lips and long lines at the side of the mouth. In the drawing Troilo would be around fourteen or fifteen, suggesting a date of around 1539-1540, and confirming that the present painting dates from when he was slightly younger.The drawing in Chatsworth attributed to Parmigianino of a younger boy in profile identifiable as Troilo and which was definitely used in the preparation of the Prado painting, supports this hypothesis. The Countess, who is undoubtedly the same person as the sitter in the Portrait of a Lady attributed to Giulio Campi in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, has a sable hanging from her shoulder.This animal was associated with fertility, and furs with the head replaced by a gold or silver one were given as marriage gifts. The sable was also thought to be able to foretell misfortune, as noted by Valeriano in his Hyerogliphica and in the Phisiologus, and once dead could ward off evil. Camilla fends off possible misfortune by ensuring that the animal -tied with a costly chain that runs round her body and to which the two younger children cling in the manner of a talisman against the perils of childhood- does not open its mouth.

El retrato del Renacimiento. El retrato del Renacimiento, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2008, p.232/233

Technical data

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Inventory number
Parmigianino. Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola and workshop
Camilla Gonzaga, Countess of San Secondo, and her Sons
1535 - 1537
Height: 128 cm; Width: 97 cm
Royal Collection (Real Alcázar, Madrid, Cuarto bajo-pieza inmediata de la Aurora, 1700, nº 273; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, primera sala de la Furriera, 1747, nº 22; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, antecámara del señor infante don Luis, 1772, nº 22; Palacio Real, Madrid, gabinete, 1814-1818, nº 22).

Bibliography +

Inventario. Palacio Real de Madrid.1686. Vol. III. I Pinturas., Madrid, 1686.

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Ponz, Antonio, Viage de España: en que se da noticia de las cosas mas apreciables, y dignas de saberse, que hay en ella, VI, Atlas, Madrid, 1794; ed. facs. 1972, pp. 53.

Inventario de las Pinturas del Museo Hecho a la Muerte del Rey Fernado VII, Madrid, 1834, pp. 46.

Madrazo, Pedro de (1816-1898), Catálogo de los cuadros del Museo del Prado de Madrid /, Libreria de la Viuda de Hernando y Cª, Madrid, 1893, pp. 63.

Frizzoni, G., I capolavori della Pinacoteca del Prado a Madrid., Archivio storico dell' arte, VI, 1893, pp. 309-324.

Rizzi, C., Di alcuni quadri del Parmigianino già esistenti in Parma., Archivio storico per le provincie parmensi, 1895, pp. 19-23.

Lefort, Paul, Les Musées de Madrid. Le Prado, San Fernando, L'Armeria, Gazette des Beaux Arts, Paris, 1896, pp. 205.

Frohlich-Bum, Lili, Parmigianino Und Der Manierismus, Anton Schroll & Co., Viena, 1921, pp. 31,32.

Siren, Osvald, Three Italian Pictures in the Pennsylvania Museum, The Burlington Magazine, 1927, pp. 3-7 / lám. C.

Venturi, Adolfo, Storia dell' arte italiana, U. Hoepli, Milán, 1929, pp. 545.

Copertini, G., Il Parmigianino, I, Parma, 1932, pp. 212-213.

Berenson, Bernard, The Italian Painters of the Renaissance, Oxford University Press Humphrey M., Londres-Oxford, 1932, pp. 434.

Berenson, B., Pitture italiane del Rinascimento. Catalogo dei Principali artisti e delle loro opere con un indice dei luoghi., Cecchi, Milan, 1936, pp. 373.

Bodmer, Enrico, Il Correggio e gli Emiliani, Istituto Geografico de Agostini, Novara, 1943, pp. lám.63.

Quintavalle, Armando Ottaviano, Il Parmigianino, Istituto Editoriale Italiano, Milan, 1948, pp. 102, 202.

Longhi, R., Un nuovo Parmigianino, Paragone : mensile de arte figurativa, 1958, pp. 35.

Berenson, Bernard, Italian pictures of the Renaissance: a list of the principal, Phaidon, Londres, 1968, pp. 320.

Fagiolo Dell'Arco, Maurizio, Il Parmigianino. Un Saggio Sull'Ermetismo Nel Cinquecento, Mario Bulzoni Editore, Roma, 1970, pp. 287.

Popham, A.E., Catalogue of the drawings of Parmigianino, New Haven Y Londres, 1971, pp. 207.

Freedberg, Sydney J., Parmigianino. His Works in Painting, Greenwood Press, Westport, 1971, pp. 213-214/ lám. 143.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

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Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: pintura italiana anterior a 1600, Gredos, Madrid, 1979, pp. 116.

Hackenbroch, Yvonne, Renaissance Jewellery, C.H.Beck, Munich, 1979, pp. 31.

Rossi, Paola, L'opera completa del Parmigianino, Rizzoli, Milán, 1980.

El niño en el Museo del Prado, Ministerio de Cultura, Dirección General de Bellas Artes, Madrid, 1983, pp. 167.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 493-494.

Vannugli, Antonio, La colección del Marqués Giovan Francesco Serra, Boletin del Museo del Prado, 9, 1988, pp. 33-43.

Gentili, Augusto, Il Ritratto e la Memoria. Materiali, I, Bulzoni Editore, Roma, 1989, pp. 177-178.

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Di Giampaolo, Mario, Parmigianino: catalogo completo dei dipinti, Cantini, Florencia, 1991, pp. 148.

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Gould, Cecil, Parmigianino, Abbeville Press Publishers, Nueva York, 1994, pp. 149, 188.

Bettagno, Alessandro, El Museo del Prado, Fonds Mercator Fundación Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1996, pp. 283.

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Neilson, Christina, Parmigianino 's Antea : a beautiful artifice, The Frick Collection, 2008, pp. 41.

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Other inventories +

Inv. Felipe V, Palacio Nuevo, 1747. Núm. 22.
PINTURAS EXISTENTES ANTIGUAS [...] En la primera Sala de este Oficio [de la Furriera] [...] {10241} 22 / Otro retrato en tabla de vna muger con tres muchachos de vara y media de caida y vara y quarta de ancho original del Ticiano = en doze mil reales

Inv. Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1772. Núm. 22.
Antecámara del señor Infante don Luis [...] {13222-13223} 21 - 22 / Dos iguales en tabla el vno de vn veneciano agasajando a vn perro de aguas y el otro que parece su consorte con tres niños de vara y media de alto y vara y quarta de ancho originales de Ticiano

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. 22.
Gabinete [...] {21273} 22 / 2 varas escasas alto vara y quarta ancho Vna señora con tres niños que dicen ser la familia del Ticiano

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos II, Alcázar de Madrid, 1701-1703. Núm. 273.
Quartto Vajo [...] Pieza ynmediata de la Aurora [...] 273 / Ytten ottro Rettratto de Vna muger Con tres Niños en ttabla de Vara y media de altto y Siete quarttas de ancho de mano de Parmesano Con marco tallado y dorado tasada en Cientto y ochentta Doblones ... 180

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 333.
333.-Retrato de señora con tres niños, probablemente de Ricarda Malaspina, esposa de Lorenzo Cibo. / Alto 1,28. Ancho 0.97.-Tabla.-(Compañero del nº332). / Hermosa matrona, de expresión agraciada, que representa unos 30 años de edad. Está retratada en pié y un tanto vuelta sobre su derecha, rodeada de tres niños. Sus facciones son delicadas, su color animado, el cabello castaño, sujeto el rodete con red de oro. Está magnificamente vestida de terciopelo color granate con acuchillados de raso blanco y trencillas de oro en las mangas y brahones, pañoleta de punto realzado, un joyel al cuello...

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 929.
Broncino. / 929. Retrato de una señora con tres niños (figuras de medio cuerpo) / Se cree ser esta señora una gran duquesa de Toscana. Esta magnificamente vestida de terciopelo color de guinda con acuchillados y trencillas de oro en las mangas y brahones, pañoleta de encage, el cuello adornado de joyas, y un grueso cordon de oro labrado en la cintura. Uno de los niños esta vestido de terciopelo azul oscuro con cinturon y espada, otro de anaranjado, y el ultimo de color claro verdoso. Todos tres tienen cadenas de oro al cuello. (tabla). / Alto 4 pies, 7 pulg; ancho 3 pies, 5 pulg, 6 lin.

Inv. María Luisa Gabriela de Saboya, Alcázar de Madrid, 1703. Núm. s. n..
De la pieza inmediata del aurora se sacaron las pinturas sgtes. [...] [54] Itt. otro retrato de una muger con tres niños en tabla de bara y ma. de alto siete quartas de ancho de mano de Parmesano con marco dorado y tallado, colocada en la pieza antes de la galería de la Reyna nra. sra.

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in yellow. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

The Renaissance Portrait
03.06.2008 - 07.09.2008

Location +

Room 049 (On Display)


Displayed objects +


Clothing / Dress: Marta cibelina cuya cabeza está sustituída por otra de orfebrería en oro con engastes de piedras preciosas y pende de una cadena. Animal asociado a la fecundidad, se regalaba con una cabeza en orfebrería con engastes de piedras preciosas, con motivo del matrimonio.
Además la marta era un presagio de desgracia y podía tener, después de muerta, un significado apotropaico.

Colgada sobre el hombro

Update date: 09-04-2022 | Registry created on 02-12-2015

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