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

The Education of Cupid

about. 1528
Oil on canvas, 155 x 91,5 cm
National Gallery, London

This is one of the six erotic paintings on mythological themes made by Correggio for Federico II Gonzaga, Lord of Mantua.

Correggio's artistic formation was unusually dependent on his geographical origins. Working in Parma, within the larger triangle of Venice, Milan and Rome, he drew on the disparate pictorial traditions of these cities as well as on the Mantuan works of Mantegna and on prints from across the Alps. The blurred contours, veiled transitions from rosy shadow to gold and white highlight and from flesh to feather, and the elusive mood of 'The School of Love' recall Giorgione, but Leonardo's influence is also evident in the exquisitely silky hair, the dreamy smiles, the complex pose of Venus. X-rays reveal major alterations: Mercury and Venus may even have exchanged places. This method of working directly on the canvas derives from Venice. Yet Correggio draws these various elements together in an entirely individual way, partly through his method of composition.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 4 minutes):
Francesco Gasparini: The Meddlesome Cupid, aria