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

Madonna and Child with Sts Jerome and Mary Magdalen (The Day)

Oil on panel, 235 x 141 cm
Galleria Nazionale, Parma

The painting was probably cut down slightly on the sides and top, painted originally for a local church at the same time that he was working on the frescoes in the Cathedral. It can be considered as the companion of the Nativity (The Night) in Dresden.

Considered his masterpiece among the altarpieces, the composition is built up as a remote variation of the pyramidal arrangements favoured by Leonardo, broken by the dominating verticality of St Jerome on the left. The sacra conversazione is transformed into an informal and incidental narrative that takes place in a landscape. A makeshift red canopy has been constructed in the foreground, where his figures are massed on a compact, constricted plane. Their poses are particularly hard to reconstruct because they are either figures covered by draperies that effectively hide their structure, or are in intricate unnatural positions. As Correggio grew older, he began to take liberties with the conventions regarding the proportion of figures. Saint Jerome on the left, accompanied by his identifying lion, occupies almost the entire height of the painting, assuming a dominant role even in relation to the Madonna and Child. His thick, muscular right leg is strikingly long in comparison to his upper body and rather smallish head.

The pictorial effects derive from a masterly application of the oil paint, confident and elegant colour, and idealized, refined faces.