The Artist Antonio da Correggio

Born in 1489, Antonio Allegri da Correggio was an Italian artist associated with the High Renaissance. His work is among the most famous of the sixteenth century. His compositions were known for their dramatic subject matter and vigor. His works have also been notable for their sensuality. Regarded as a revolutionary artist of whom little is known, he influenced subsequent generations of artists. His most famous works include The Adoration of the Magi (1516-1518), The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine (1526-1527), and Leda with the Swan (1531-1532).

Born in Correggio, Italy, the artist is primarily known by his birthplace. Scholars believe his father was a merchant, but very little is known of Correggio’s training except that he was the apprentice of Francesco Bianchi Ferrara of Modena. Early in his career Correggio resided in his hometown. One of his earliest paintings is the Adoration of the Child with St. Elizabeth and John (c.1508). He also painted several tondos for the Mantua Church of Sant’Andrea which he completed in 1514. With his celebrity rising, he was commissioned to paint the Madonna altarpiece for the St. Francis Monastery near the town of Correggio.

In 1516 Correggio left for Parma where he would spend most of his career. There he became associated with the Mannerist style, an intellectual movement of the high Renaissance known for its artificial approaches to art which was a reaction to the naturalism of artists like Michelangelo and Raphael. A few years later, in 1519, he married Girolama Francesca di Braghetis. She, too, was from Correggio. One of their sons, Pomponio Allegri, became a painter, though he did not achieve the fame of his father. During his early career in Parma, Correggio painted Madonna and Child with the Young Saint John (1516) and Madonna of Albinea (1514) which is lost today.

Correggio became known for his innovative interior designs as evidenced by his major commission painting in the Camera di San Paolo of the convent of St. Paul. By 1520 he began to paint the domes for the Church of San Giovanni Evangelista and the Cathedral of Parma. The Parma Cathedral features Correggio’s Assumption of the Virgin (1526-1530) which became one of his masterpieces and most influential works. While Correggio typically painted religious scenes, he is also famous for his set of Loves of Jupiter, mythological paintings that include such works as Leda with the Swan and Venus and Cupid with a Satyr (c.1528). Many of Correggio’s works (which are not attached to cathedrals) are collected by the world’s most prestigious museums.