Every couple of weeks or so (probably) I'm going to post and comment on a favorite painting.
This one is "Madonna with the Long Neck", by Parmigianino, painted in 1535. It's in the "Mannerist" style, which took the Renaissance lessons of perspective, depth and proportion and twisted them, creating a strange and surreal world full of undulating shapes and distortions of scale.
I love the serpentine "Madonna" holding the too-large baby, the too-small figure in the background, and the column that resembles a modern industrial smokestack more than any similar object contemporary with either the Biblical era or the Italian Renaissance.
Parmigianino also throws away the carefully structured symmetry that had come to define that period. He and the other Mannerists were bellwethers of the attitudes and practices of Modernism, 400 years in the future.