Parma c.1489 - Parma 1538


Very little is known of the Parmesan artist Giorgio Gandini del Grano, including the precise year of his birth, and he is only first mentioned in documents in 1528, a decade before his death. He is thought to have been a pupil and assistant of Correggio, who was certainly a profound influence on his style. (As one modern scholar has noted, ‘Of all Correggio’s followers, Giorgio Gandini del Grano may have been the closest and the one who, among his nearest contemporaries, seems to have understood him best.’). Gandini seems to have enjoyed a considerable reputation in his native Parma. This is evidenced by the fact that in June 1535 he was commissioned to complete the mural decoration of the choir and apse of the city’s cathedral, part of a large project initially given to Correggio in 1522. While Correggio completed the painting of the interior of the cupola, he did not finish any of the remaining decoration in the church. The year after the master’s death, Gandini was granted the commission to complete the work, for which he was to be paid 350 gold scudi. However, Gandini likewise died before being able to begin work in the cathedral, although he produced several preparatory drawings and full-scale cartoons for the project. (The decoration was eventually completed by Girolamo Mazzola Bedoli around 1544.) Among the most significant of Gandini’s few surviving paintings is an altarpiece of The Holy Family with Saints Michael and Bernard, commissioned for the high altar of the church of San Michele in Parma and now in the Galleria Nazionale there. The corpus of extant drawings generally accepted as by Giorgio Gandini del Grano numbers around forty-five sheets, many of which display the strong influence of Correggio, his presumed master. As Diane DeGrazia has written, Gandini’s drawings show that he was ‘an artist of considerable talent and originality whose vocabulary was based on Correggio but whose compositional sense was that of a classic mannerist, somewhat like Bedoli...Gandini’s drawings [are] linear in quality, circular in composition, and softened by a red chalk sfumato based on a direct knowledge of Correggio. Gandini must have been a careful craftsman and, much like Correggio, experimented with various positions of his models, searching with numerous lines and pentimenti for the perfect placement, continually changing as he drew.’ Drawings by Gandini are today in the collections of the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Uffizi in Florence, the British Museum in London, the Louvre in Paris, the Albertina in Vienna, the Royal Library at Windsor Castle, and elsewhere.