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Estelle M. Hurll

In early days an Italian in addressing a lady used the word Madonna, which, like the French word Madame, means My Lady. Now he says Signora; Madonna would have to him an old-fashioned sound. To the rest of the world this word Madonna has come to be applied almost wholly to the Virgin Mary, with or without the child Jesus; and as Raphael painted a great many pictures of the Madonna for churches or other sacred places, a name has been given to each, drawn usually from some circumstance about it.

No one of the old Italian masters has taken such a firm hold upon the popular imagination as Raphael. Other artists wax and wane in public favor as they are praised by one generation of critics or disparaged by the next; but Raphael's name continues to stand in public estimation as that of the favorite painter in Christendom. The passing centuries do not dim his fame, though he is subjected to severe criticism; and he continues, as he began, the first love of the people.

The glory of Parma is the Cathedral, which represents the labors of many centuries. The building itself was begun in 1058, and completed in the thirteenth century. The interior was beautified by a succession of artists, one of whom was our painter Correggio. His work here was the decoration of the cupola, and he began it immediately upon finishing the frescoes in the church of S. Giovanni Evangelista.

In one of the pendentives of the cupola in the Parma Cathedral is the figure of St. John the Baptist reproduced in our illustration. The background is made to resemble somewhat the interior of a shell. On billows of clouds sits the prophet, with a lamb in his arms, and a circle of angels playing about him.

Almost every celebrated painter has at some time in his life sat for his portrait. Many have painted their own likenesses, not so much from motives of vanity, but as a matter of artistic interest. Others have posed as models to their fellow painters.

Correggio was an exception in this regard. The old biographer Vasari made many efforts to procure a portrait, and concluded that "he never took it himself, nor ever had it taken by others, seeing that he lived much in retirement."

In the northern part of Italy is the little town of Correggio, which gave its name to the painter whose works we are to study. His real name was Antonio Allegri, but in the sixteenth century a man would often be called by a nickname referring to some peculiarity, or to his birthplace. When Allegri went to Parma he was known as Antonio da Correggio, that is, Antonio from Correggio, and the name was then shortened to Correggio.

The art of Correggio was very justly summed up by his first biographer, Vasari.

The first biographer of Correggio was Vasari, in whose "Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects" is included a brief account of this painter. The student should read this work in the last edition annotated by E. H. and E. W. Blashfield and A. A. Hopkins. Passing over the studies of the intervening critics, Julius Meyer's biography may be mentioned next, as an authoritative work, practically alone in the field for some twenty-five years. This was translated from the German by M. C. Heaton, and published in London in 1876.

Portrait frontispiece. From a photograph of an alleged portrait of Correggio in the Parma Gallery.

1. The Holy Night.(La Notte.) (Detail.) Painted at the order of Alberto Pratoneri for the altar of his chapel in the church of S. Prospero, Reggio. Agreement signed October 10, 1522. Stolen from the church May, 1640, and taken to Modena. Now in the Dresden Gallery. Size of whole picture: 8 ft. 5 in. by 6 ft. 2 in.

In the time of Correggio the convent of S. Paolo (St. Paul) in Parma was in charge of the abbess Giovanna da Piacenza, who had succeeded an aunt in this office in 1507. She was a woman of liberal opinions, who did not let the duties of her position entirely absorb her. She still retained some social connections and was a patroness of art and culture. The daughter of a nobleman, she was a person of consequence, whose private apartments were such as a princess might have. Already a well known painter of the day had decorated one of her rooms when she heard of the rising artist Correggio.

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