Correggio is one of those painters who rely for a large part of their appeal on exaggerated smiles and languidly graceful gestures. His pictures usually present a hackneyed pattern, made flashily obvious by a pronounced light-and-shade contrast, based on the style of Leonardo da Vinci. This is the celebrated ” chiaroscuro,” for which he has been given excessive praise. In color, he emphasizes light pinks and blues, of some decorative charm but rarely well organized with other elements. Like many other inferior painters, he outdoes himself at rare moments, and produces a picture of some substance and originality. The Leda is somewhat less characteristic than his Danae in the Borghese at Rome, since it makes less extreme use of chiaroscuro. With more moderate, less theatrical light emphasis, he brings out here an equally original and effective design. It is formed by the long, slender shapes of girls, cupids and swans, trunks and branches of trees, which converge and circle toward the face of Leda, bending and waving in a gentle, floating rhythm. His light pinks and blues are here, in the two figures to the right of Leda, but they are better merged than usual in a thin, delicate version of Venetian atmosphere. His pretty smiles are here, but not exaggerated, and not relied on at the expense of design. The result is none too strong, but it is light decoration of a high order. It illustrates how traits that are offensive when overdone in isolation may be pleasing, when incorporated in a fairly well-balanced form.
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