School of Parma. Called Correggio, from his birthplace, a small town near Modena. “Correggio is an isolated phenomenon in Italian art; we look in vain, after his earliest years of practice, for any true affinity between him and other masters.” (National Gallery Catalogue.)
LONDON, NATIONAL GALLERY
VENUS, MERCURY, AND CUPID Three full-length life-size nude figures. Mercury in winged cap and sandals is seated on a bank on the right, with Cupid standing in profile towards him in the centre, while Venus stands, full face, on the left, her right hand touching his little wings. Background of dark foliage, against which slight portions of the crimson and blue mantle of Venus and Mercury are seen.
This masterpiece has had several distinguished owners, though it is not known who was its first. In 1628 it was purchased from the Duke of Mantua by Charles I. In 1649 the Duke of Alva bought it. In 1808 it was in the collection of ” the Prince of Peace ” at Madrid, and was seized by Murat, afterwards King of Naples, and was purchased after his death from the ex-Queen by the Marquis of Londonderry.
Purchased from Lord Londonderry in 1834.
THE MADONNA OF THE BASKET The Child is seated on the lap of the Virgin, who is dressing Him in a little blue coat. St. Joseph in the background is planing a board. In the foreground, to the left, is a small basket, whence the picture has been called ” La Vierge au Panier ” or ” La Madonna della Cesta.”
Formerly in the royal collection at Madrid. Purchased for this gallery in 1825.
THE MARRIAGE OF ST. CATHERINE Half-length figure of the Virgin with the Child on her lap on the left, and St. Catherine kneeling on the right, facing each other. Over St. Catherine’s head is seen that of St. Sebastian. All four are intent on the placing of the ring on St. Catherine’s finger. Landscape background with trees on the left, and one or two small figures.
Painted in 1519 on the occasion of the marriage of Correggio’s sister. In 1650 it belonged to Cardinal Barberini, who gave it to Cardinal b7azarin. Its value was estimated at 15,000 livres when it was acquired by Louis XIV.
JUPITER AND ANTIOPE At the foot of a tree Antiope reclines, facing us, asleep, her right arm thrown back over her head. At her right, rather nearer to us, lies Cupid on his right side. To the left, a little farther off, Jupiter stands, in the shape of a young Satyr, lifting the draperies from Antiope. All three figures are nude.
Purchased by Cardinal Mazarin for 25,000 francs on the dispersal of the collection of Charles L, who had it from the Duke of Mantua.
THE MADONNA WITH ST. JEROME AND THE MAGDALENE (Called “Il Giorno “-The Day-in contradistinction to the Adoration of the Shepherds at Dresden-” La Notte.”) The Virgin and Child are seated in the centre; St. Jerome, nearly nude, stands on the left, and an angel between them points to a passage in a book which he holds. St. Mary Magdalene kneels on the right, kissing the foot of the Child; another angel is near her.
“The pure light of day is diffused over the picture; the figures seem surrounded, as it were, by a radiant atmosphere.” (Eastlake.)
THE MADONNA DELLA SCODELLA Round top. A “Repose in Egypt.” The Virgin, seated, facing us on the left, has a bowl in her hand, from which the picture is named. St. Joseph stands facing us on the right, his left hand aloft in the branches of a palm, his right extended downwards to the Child, who stands with His back to us against His mother’s knee, His face turned over His left shoulder. A group of little angels is in the topmost branches of the palm.
Painted about 1528.
THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT The Virgin is seated under a clump of trees in the centre, turned slightly to the right, with the Child on her knees, to whom St. Joseph, on the left, is pulling down the branch of a date palm. On the right is St.Francis in adoration. Landscape background.
ROME, BORGHESE GALLERY
DANE Danoe is seated on a high couch on the right, covered only by a sheet spread over her lap to catch the golden rain. Her left leg hangs down over the edge of the couch. On the foot of the couch a well-grown Cupid sits looking upwards. In the right foreground are a couple of little naked boys.
THE MADONNA OF ST. SEBASTIAN A tall altar-piece, which is thought to represent Correggio’s most perfect development. Certainly this and the Madonna of St. George show how theatrical abandon had superseded the conventional treatment of the Madonna of St. Francis (also at Dresden). Here the Virgin is enthroned on clouds, surrounded by a circle of very human infant angels, holding the Child on her left knee. Both are looking down at the bald-headed St. Geminianus, who kneels in the centre, his head turned round to us as he extends his left hand downwards and his right upwards inviting us to join in adoration. To the left stands the youthful Sebastian in a loin cloth, his hands bound to a tree at his side, while he gazes happily up at the Child. To the right St. Roch seated, apparently asleep, facing us, with his knees wide apart. In the left foreground is seated an angel child holding a model of a church.
THE ADORATION OF THE SHEPHERDS One of the most famous of Correggio’s works, known as “La Notte.” Brilliant light emanates from the Holy Child, who lies in His mother’s arms in a pent-house. In the left foreground is a tall bearded shepherd, his right arm raised in astonishment. Next to him kneels a young shepherd looking up at the former, and beyond him, her back to a pillar, a young woman who shields the light from her face with left hand uplifted as she gazes at the Infant. Above float three or four angels with limbs foreshortened. St. Joseph is dimly seen on a donkey in the darkness of the background. Morning breaks over distant hills.
THE MADONNA OF ST. GEORGE Here the Virgin is sitting on a low stool placed on a high pedestal under a richly decorated alcove opening with a round arch behind her. The Child, on her right knee, reaches out with both arms to the adult St. John the Baptist, who stands on the left with one foot on the base of the pedestal, pointing to the Child with bent right arm, but with his head looking out of the picture. On the right stands St. George, a handsome young man like the Baptist, with his left foot on a huge dragon’s head, and his left hand on his hip. Behind, on either side of the Virgin, are seen St. Peter Martyr and St. Geminianus. In the centre foreground two little boys are playing with St. George’s accoutrements,
THE MAGDALENE READING This well-known picture of the Magdalene, in a simple robe, with bare feet, lying at full length with her head resting on her right hand as she reads a book, is only a copy of the lost original.
LEDA AND THE SWAN In the centre foreground, at the edge of some water, Leda is seated, full face, with the swan between her knees. Her back is against the roots of a large tree, which is the foremost of a group of smaller ones. On the right are two young girls knee-deep in the water, one warding off a floating swan and the other watching one flying away, while a maid-servant holds a drapery ready for her, and another maid-servant looks on. On the left an adolescent Cupid, winged, sits, in profile to left, at the foot of the tree, playing on a lyre, and on the extreme left are two amorini. Only the two maid-servants are clothed.
Painted about 1530 for the Emperor Charles V.
Purchased in 1755 by Frederick the Great for 21,060 livres. It has been very much repainted. Old copies are at Petrograd and Madrid.