(b. ca. 1490, Correggio, d. 1534, Correggio)

Assumption of the Virgin

Fresco, 1093 x 1195 cm
Duomo, Parma

Correggio accommodated the larger space of the octagonal cupola of Parma Cathedral by increasing the number of figures and the complexity of the design. A series of foreshortened figures acts as a device to visually lead the viewer up into the dome. Four gigantic saints provide a sense of support for the drum. As in the earlier frescoes for the cupola of San Giovanni Evangelista, Christ appears in the centre now much reduced in size, so as to emphasize a greater implied and actual distance.

The fresco of the Assumption of the Virgin in the dome of the cathedral of Parma marks the culmination of Correggio's career as a mural painter. This fresco (a painting in plaster with water-soluble pigments) anticipates the Baroque style of dramatically illusionistic ceiling painting. The entire architectural surface is treated as a single pictorial unit of vast proportions, equating the dome of the church with the vault of heaven. The realistic way the figures in the clouds seem to protrude into the spectators' space is an audacious and astounding use for the time of foreshortening.