Girolamo Mazzola acquired the name of Parmigianino from Parma, where he was born in 1503. His initial training took place in the family workshop, as his father was also a painter, and reflected Northern Italian traditions, including the work of Mantegna. He worked in the region for about five years before moving to Rome in 1524. He did not enjoy great success before he famously departed from Rome after the Sack of 1527, moving first to Bologna for three years and then returning to his native Parma. It was in these later years that he developed the highly aestheticized and sensual style which would make him an icon of Mannerism. His procrastination on a fresco project in Parma led to his dismissal and incarceration, a trauma that formed the prelude to his premature death in 1540. He drew this study in preparation for a recently-rediscovered Adoration of the Shepherds in a private collection in Zurich, in 1522, during his early Parma period. The tight group of Mary, Joseph, two angels and a Shepherd is opened up in the painting, and the shepherd is moved, in reverse, to join some fellow rustics in the upper right corner. The loose handling and pictorial treatment of light and dark chalks are typical for the artist’s creative process in this period.