Antonio Allegri (Correggio) was born in Correggio (Reggio Emilia) in 1494 and died there in 1534.
He is considered one of the greatest Italian painters of the sixteenth century, worthy to be compared with Raphael, Titan and Leonardo da Vinci.
Correggio reached the highest peak of his creativity in painting during his stay in Parma, which has the honor of preserving his most important works.
Correggio’s first major commission (February–September of 1519) was the ceiling decoration of the private dining salon of the mother-superior (abbess Giovanna Piacenza) of the convent of St Paul called the Camera di San Paolo at Parma. Here he painted a delightful arbor pierced by oculi opening to glimpses of playful cherubs. Below the oculi are lunettes with images of feigned monochromic marble. The fireplace is frescoed with an image of Diana. The iconography of the unit is complex, joining images of classical marbles to whimsical colorful bambini. While it recalls the secular frescoes of the pleasure palace of the Villa Farnesina in Rome, it is also a strikingly novel form of interior decoration.
He next painted the illusionistic Vision of St. John on Patmo (1520–21) for the dome of the church of San Giovanni Evangelista. Three years later he decorated the dome of the Cathedral of Parma with a startling Assumption of the Virgin, crowded with layers of receding figures in Melozzo’s perspective (sotto in su, from down to up). These two works represented a highly novel illusionistic sotto in su treatment of dome decoration that would exert a profound influence upon future fresco artists,. The massing of spectators in a vortex, creating both narrative and decoration, the illusionistic obliteration of the architectural roof-plane, and the thrusting perspective towards divine infinity, were devices without precedent, and which depended on the extrapolation of the mechanics of perspective. The recession and movement implied by the figures all presage the dynamism that would characterize Baroque painting.
Other masterpieces include The Lamentation and The Martydom of Four Saints, both at the Galleria Nazionale of Parma. The Lamentation is haunted by a lambence rarely seen in Italian painting prior to this time.