Antonio Allegri (El Correggio)(1489 – 1534)

Antonio Allegri, called the Correggio after his hometown, was trained in Mantua and it was in Parma that he developed his art. His rich, fresh and sensual pictorial language, which directly appeals to the senses, is a synthesis of the Emilian tradition, Venetian painting and Tuscan-Roman culture.

Obras de Corregio
The Madonna and Child with the little Saint John – Antonio Allegri da Correggio

Biography and work of Antonio Allegri da Correggio

He knew how to liberate painting from the perspectival order of Renaissance architectures to arrange his dynamic and powerful figures in infinite and unreal spaces that anticipate solutions typical of Baroque painting.

From 1510-1513 a certain influence of Leonardo da Vinci begins to be perceived in Correggio’s work, evident in the use of «sfumato» in physiognomic treatments -such as the enigmatic smile- and in the use of models of the Tuscan master.

In a first instance in Parma (1518-1519) he carried out the fresco decoration of the private chamber of the abbess of the convent of San Paolo, Giovanna Piacenza.

In a Parma that was torn between the power of the French and the papacy, Correggio’s innovative painting must have been immediately recognized, since between 1520 and 1530 he is found working in the city on important commissions.

Of the work carried out in this period, the period of the painter’s artistic maturity, the frescoes executed for the church of San Giovanni Evangelista (1520-1524) and those of the city’s cathedral (1526-1529) stand out, which alone place the name of Antonio Allegri Correggio among the great painters of the 16th century.

After the completion of the cathedral murals and the death of his wife, probably in 1529, Correggio returned to his hometown in 1530. It was there that he carried out a series of paintings for the Gonzaga family of Mantua, the «Loves of Jupiter», commissioned by Federico II de Gonzaga as a gift to Emperor Charles V.

His work shows an absolute mastery of color, light and chiaroscuro, a chiaroscuro that is indebted to Leonardo’s «sfumato». But in it, the imprint of the artists who forged his career, such as Mantegna and Costa, is evident in the security of the drawing and composition, which, however, flees from rigidity to boldly enter the world of impressions of reality, of a reality that becomes harmonious as well as dynamic and expressive.

And it is this desire to prolong forms in time and space that brings Correggio’s art closer to the soul of the Mannerist generation, exemplified by the young Parmigianino, and even to the first gleams of the Baroque.