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Correggio is the pseudonym of Italian painter Antonio Allegri, who was
born around 1489/93 into the family of provincial artists in the town of
Correggio. As a painter he worked in Parma, where he came in contact and
experienced a wide range of influences of different Italian art schools
of the High Renaissance – first Leonardo
de Vinci and the Venetians, then Michelangelo
and Raphael. He managed to make
his own way in Italian art. He surpassed the traditions of the High Renaissance;
at the same time he has practically no links with Mannerism, which began
to form in the 1520s-1530s. Exceptionally gifted, with a powerful talent,
thirst for novelty, rich fantasy and refined taste Correggio enriched Italian
painting with many discoveries, which anticipated the Italian Baroque of
the 17th century.
During his 20-year-long career Correggio created many big altar paintings,
such as Judith (1512-1514),
and Child with St. George (1520s-1530s). Having started with
traditional for Italian painting of the 16th century, solemn altar with
Madonna on a throne and Saints surrounding her pedestal, Correggio then
introduced new topics for altar paintings: Adoration
of the Shepherds (The Holy Night) (1522), Madonna
del Latte (c.1523). He introduced some theatrical effects into
religious painting, combining grandeur with tenderness and sentiment, even
sensuality. There was little difference between physical and spiritual
ecstasy for Correggio, who thereby established an important precedent for
Baroque artists. Especially sensual are his mythological canvases: The
Abduction of Ganymede (c.1531-1532), Zeus
and Io (c.1531-1532), Leda
and Swan (c.1531-1532), Danae
(c.1531) and others.
The reformatory character of his talent expressed itself especially brightly
in his monumental works. The first of them is Camera of Abyss in the convent
of San Paolo, Parma, 1519: General View
of the Abbess' Room (c.1519), Diana
(c.1519). In frescos of the Church of San Giovanni Evangelist (1520-21,
Parma), Correggio was the first to “tear” the ceiling, depicting open skies
with Christ: Vision of St. John the Evangelist(1520-1524).
In the frescoes of the Parma Cathedral (1524-30) the composition is more
sophisticated. “His largest work, the fresco of The
Assumption of the Virgin in the dome of Parma Cathedral, is
a masterpiece of illusionistic perspective, a vast, luminous space filled
with soaring figures. Although they move with such exhilarating ease that
the force of gravity seems not to exist for them, these are healthy, energetic
beings of flesh and blood, not disembodied spirits, and they frankly delight
in their weightless condition.” Frescoes of Parma Cathedral became an example
for later dome frescoes of Mannerists and Baroque artists.
Correggio had no immediate successors, nor did he have any lasting influence
on the art of his century, but toward 1600 his work began to be widely
appreciated as the equal of Raphael and Michelangelo, while the Mannerists,
so important before, were largely forgotten.
Painting of Europe. XIII-XX centuries. Encyclopedic Dictionary.
Moscow. Iskusstvo. 1999.
by David Ekserdjian, Correggio. Yale Univ Pr, 1998.
by Lucia Fornari Schianchi, Edoardo Villata. 5 Continents, 2006.
Frescoes in Parma Cathedral by Carolyn Smyth. Princeton University
by Elbert Hubbard. Kessinger Publishing, 2005.