The Assumption of the Virgin is a fresco that was painted by the high Renaissance master Correggio that was painted at the Parma Cathedral in the years 1526-30 and was painted in the genre of religious art with it being an huge exemplar of mastery that Correggio painted with in all his artwork. The work itself is a huge fresco and while Correggio moved onto other projects and works that were lesser-known, this piece seems to keep drawing art historians back to study it. Correggio was admittedly a master in painting frescos and is best-known for the work, The Assumption of the Virgin, and because Correggio was mainly a provincial painter, he was often overshadowed by the artists involved in the Renaissance at the bequest of Pope Julius II and his successors but even with Correggio being a provincial painter that didn’t stop his legacy from influencing later artists that used his techniques of trompe l’oeil and foreshortening such as Da Cortona (see blog post about the Allegory of Divine Providence for more information) and also Andrea Pozzo who is known for his piece The Apotheosis of St. Ignatius. Correggio is also well-known and noted for his mythological painting as seen in his masterpiece Jupiter and Io.
The Assumption of the Virgin is Correggio’s second most important dome fresco with the first being his Vision of St. John the Evangelist which was painted on the ceiling of the San Giovanni Evangelista church which was completed in the years 1520-21. Correggio was commissioned to start on this piece in 1522 which was shortly after the Papal forces had liberated the city from French control and the fresco being completed in 1530 and this daring and masterful piece of Renaissance art was heavily influenced by Melozza da Forli and was painted on the underside of the Parma cathedral which dated from the Romanesque period which also lead to this fresco being one of the models for Baroque artists during the 17th century. Moving onto the details of the fresco itself, the 1st thing that should be noted about it is the sheer size of the fresco as it is massive even though it is painted on the underside of the cathedral’s dome. Moving onto the actual details within the fresco itself, we have the apostles standing on the encircling balustrade while in the center of the scene we see the Virgin Mary dressed in blue and red robes being surrounded by vibrant bright light and clouds populated by saints, angels, and patriarchs as she ascends into Heaven. This demonstrates Correggio’s use of foreshortening to its fullest effect as evidenced by the extreme foreshortening of the bodies and the clear, deliberate lighting create a feeling of complete weightlessness and boundlessness that is accentuated even more by the enormous illusionary effect of depth which is heightened even further when one considers the sheer vastness of this fresco.
The Assumption of the Virgin was important during it’s time of creation as it invoked a sense of tranquility and peace into a believer as they stared up at the dome of the Cathedral in Parma. The purpose and role of the Assumption of the Virgin during it’s time of creation was to instill a sense of awe and wonder at the sight of the Virgin Mary ascending into Heaven.
The person who influenced this artwork was Melozzo da Forli who was the most important member of the Forli painting school. This person is important as it was he who inspired Correggio to use foreshortening which was very instrumental in the Assumption of the Virgin as the style was used quite liberally in the fresco and was quite effective in how Correggio wanted his fresco being viewed by the public.
The Assumption of the Virgin is important during today’s day and age as it showcases Correggio at his masterful best which later inspired other artists that would use his hallmarks to great effect just like their predecessor. This art piece is important today as it makes you realize that you are not part of just a single culture but also multicultural mosaic that stretches the globe and this started with Correggio being masterful in his art which lead to others after taking up his hallmarks and using them to great effect in their own art.
Footnotes for this article:
“Assumption of the Virgin (1526-30) By Correggio in Parma Cathedral.,” Assumption of the Virgin by Correggio: Analysis, , accessed March 04, 2017, http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/famous-paintings/assumption-correggio.htm.
Danilo Bersani et al., “An integrated multi-analytical approach to the study of the dome wall paintings by Correggio in Parma cathedral,” Microchemical Journal 114 (2014): , doi:10.1016/j.microc.2013.11.014.
Elena Ferrari—Barassi, “Representations of Paradise in Seventeenth-Century Italian Art,” RIdIM/RCMI Newsletter 18, no. 1 (Spring 1993): , accessed March 3, 2017, http://www.jstor.org/stable/41604972?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents.
Mary Vacarro, “Correggio and Parmigianino: On the Place of Rome in the Historiography of Sixteenth-Century Parmese Drawing,” Artibus et Historiae 30, no. 59 (2009): , accessed March 3, 2017, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40343667.