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Correggio's Frescoes in Parma Cathedral
Carolyn Smyth

Hardcover | 1997 | This edition is out of print | ISBN: 9780691037479

Reviews | Table of Contents

Correggio's depiction of the Virgin's Assumption into heaven, painted in the cupola of the Duomo of Parma, is widely viewed as one of the most inventive and influential fresco cycles of the Renaissance. Even so, the very elements that make the work so powerful--its lively iconography and its illusionism--have long been decried by critics for their apparent illegibility and lack of decorum. In the first book-length study of these frescoes in English, Carolyn Smyth counters such negative criticism by taking into account the viewer's in situ experience of the frescoes. In so doing, she offers a new reading that explores the artist's knowing use of figural perspective, the architectural and liturgical context, and the religious significance of the theme.

Aided by new photographs of the fresco, taken by Ralph Lieberman, Smyth leads the reader from the door of the cathedral to the apse, in order to examine the lay worshipper's experience from a series of partial views in the nave and the contrasting vistas of the clergy in the presbytery. As each of these separately revealed sequences of the cycle is discussed, new elements appear and are interpreted. The gestures, figural relationships, activities, and attributes visible from each viewpoint convey specific meanings that reveal, too, the most relevant aspect of the Assumption theme for the participant below. Not only the spatial communicativeness of the painting but also the affective warmth of Correggio's style are seen as means to celebrate Mary's redemptive role and its implications for the Christian audience.

Review:

"Smyth offers a fresh and valuable approach to Correggio's fresco cycle of the Assumption of the Virgin in the Duomo at Parma, which despite its fame and important place in the development of Renaissance illusionistic decoration has long been misunderstood. In her well-written, profusely illustrated, and rigorously documented study . . . Smyth undertakes a careful examination of both the style and content of the frescoes."--Sixteenth Century Journal

Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction
ONE The View from the Door: Half of the
Squinches and the Decoration Between
TWO The View from the Second Nave Bay: The
Squinches Completely Revealed
THREE The View from the Fourth Nave Bay: The
Cornice, Two Apostles, the Dado, and Attendant Angels Appear
FOUR The View from the Front of the Sixth
Nave Bay: The Ascending Virgin Appears
FIVE The View from the Foot of the Old
Stairs: Mary Ascending, with Adam and Eve
SIX The View from the Stairs: More Old
Testament Figures Come into Sight
SEVEN Christ Appears as the Viewer Ascends the Stairs to the Presbytery
EIGHT The View from the Altar at the Middle
of the Crossing: The "Central View"
NINE The View from the Eastern Apse: The
Western Face of the Cupola and Two More Squinches
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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File created: 3/28/2014

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