Antonio Allegri Correggio Biography
Correggio, whose real name was Antonio Allegri, was an Italian Renaissance painter whose innovations in depicting space and movement anticipated the baroque style.
Born in Correggio, Allegri studied painting reputedly with an uncle and with Francesco Bianchi-Ferrari in Modena. Correggio paintings were influenced by Andrea Mantegna and Leonardo da Vinci. Settling in Parma in 1518, Correggio painted his first set of frescoes in the Abbess’s Salon of the Convent of San Paolo; they are known collectively as Diana Returning from the Chase. This work is notable for the extreme foreshortening of the cherubs placed in many small panels around the room.
From 1520 to 1524, Correggio worked on the fresco The Ascension of Christ in the cupola of the Church of San Giovanni Evangelista, in Parma. The skillful use of light and shadow and luminous colors enhance the illusionistic technique, which makes the scene seem to extend beyond the physical limits of the dome. Similar but more complex effects can be observed in The Assumption of the Virgin (1526-1530) in the Cathedral of Parma. He returned to Correggio about 1530, after the death of his wife, before completing other decorations in the cathedral.
Correggio paintings are characterized by sensuous nude figures, colors that have a cool, silvery sheen, great skill in foreshortening, and originality of perspective. About 40 of his paintings exist. All represent religious and mythological subjects.
The religious paintings, such as the Madonna and Saint Jerome, also called Day (1527?, Parma Gallery) and Holy Night (1530?, Dresden Gallery), are distinguished usually by a pearly tonality. The nudes in his mythological scenes, notably Jupiter and Io (1532?, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna) and Jupiter and Antiope (1532?, Louvre, Paris), express spiritual ecstasy similar to that of his religious figures. The painters of the Carracci family, the 16th-century Bolognese founders of the eclectic school, and Correggio’s pupil Il Parmigianino incorporated Correggio’s style into their paintings.