This work is one of the glories of Parma. It was painted at the same time as The Martyrdom of SS. Placidus and Flaviai.e., 1522-23and for the same patron, Sig. Placido del Bono. The Pietà is much more natural in style than the Martyrdom, and the more so that in it he has not tried to avoid the sadness necessary to the subject. The Saviour is just taken from the cross, which stands in the background, and Joseph of Arimathea is seen descending from it on a ladder. Our Lord lies on a winding-sheet on the ground, His head supported on the knee of the Madonna ; Mary Magdalene crouches on the grass in an attitude of intense sorrow, her hands clasped over her knees in an agony of grief. The Madonna is swooning back in the arms of Salome and another woman, whose faces are convulsed with weeping. The sorrow of all is realistic enough ; it is the Italian unrestrained grief which prostrates. Mary. Magdalene shows the intensity of woe which is speechless, the Madonna the overpowering agony which deadens and freezes the senses, the two others the more superficial feeling which finds relief in tears. The figure of Christ is much more masterly than any of Correggio’s other representations of the Saviour, which are apt to be fleshy and wanting in sentiment. Here there is good modelling of all the limbs, the fingers are contracted as if with the iron nails, and the toes are also drawn under. The technique of the whole is fine, and the colouring forcible. The drawing and fore-shortening are superb, but as far as the composition goes, there is in all the principal figures a tendency of line to the left, which gives a certain want of support.
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