Correggio (c.1489 Correggio, near Modena – 1534 Correggio), born Antonio Allegri, was one of the most important painters of the High Renaissance in Italy. He worked in Rome, Parma and in his native city. He was probably the pupil of Francesco Bianchi Ferrari, but was deeply influenced by the work of Andrea Mantegna and Leonardo do Vinci, and later also by Raphael and Michelangelo. Correggio became a pioneering master of illusionist painting by trying to achieve the best possible expression of lightness and grace.
He employed tone and colour to counterbalance his forms, thereby developing innovative effects of light and shadow. He created superb three-dimensionality by means of foreshortening and overlapping: and used lighting along with the aligning diagonals to create a depth of field that he incorporated into the events depicted . His works include The Vision of St John the Evangelist (1522, San Giovanni Evangelista, Parma), Adoration of the Shepherds (1528, Germäldegalerie, alte Meister, Dresden) and Jupiter and Io (c.1531 Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna).
There are two works of Correggio which particularly grad my attention. The first is The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine (c.1517) an oil on panel, 105 x 102cm which is in the Musée de Louvre.
Here we see St. Catherine receiving her wedding ring from the hand of the Christ Child, with St. Sebastian appearing from behind her as a witness and in the background, the martyrdom of the two saints is idealized in a lovely landscape. This picture to me radiates grace, beauty and extraordinary character. Just for a moment look upon his painting of the Christ Child – such a tangible moment and the Christ Child is painted so profoundly differently from images of the time. This is a child you feel you could pick up, who would play with your hair, smile at you, respond to you. The delicate colours and the use of light transforms everything in this picture so that you can’t help but feel drawn into the moment, despite the horror being portrayed in the background.
The second of Correggio’s works is The Adoration of the Child (1524) an oil on canvas, 81 x 67cm, which is in the Galleria degli Uffizi.
The painting (above) my refer to Correggio’s best known work, The Nativity, which was painted in 1530 and now hangs in the Gemäldegalerie Alta Meister in Dresden. In this work we see the Christ Child bathed in a “miracle of light”. which in turn highlights the face and hands of his mother, while also giving a depth of light to the overall surroundings. Here we see the gentle expression of the mother as in the St Catherine painting, whilst elevating this to an adoration of the miracle of his birth. This is a lighting masterpiece, which is intricate, touching, as well as being stunning in its perspective and poignancy.
Whilst these may not be the favourite paintings of other, and I will share another couple with you, including his wonderful The Assumption of the Virgin 1524-1530, in the Duomo, Parma, I hope they have inspired you to take a look at the work of this wonderful Renaissance artist.