Oil on panel, 34.2 x 29.2 cm
Correggio, Civic Museum
This panel passed from the estate of Mrs. Lore Heinemann to the Pierpoint Morgan Library of New York and then to the National Gallery of Washington, which put it on the market. It was then purchased by the Fondazione Il Correggio in 2002.
At some time in the past, it was cut down by several centimetres on at least three of its sides. From 1999 to 2000, it underwent all the usual scientific evaluations and was given an excellent restoration at the National Gallery of Washington.
Ekserdjian had already published it prior to its being recognised as “the best version” of all those known. It was authenticated as a Correggio by David A. Brown and Eugenio Riccòmini without any conflict amongst academics.
We know of at least eight antique copies of this painting: amongst which are a piece by Ludovico Carracci (Rome, Corsini Gallery) and a large version by G. C. Amidano hanging in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Parma.
The subject is unique in Correggio's oeuvre: the dead Christ is lying on Mary's lap as she sits beside the sepulchre against a background of dense vegetation, to the right of which a path leads towards an open landscape. The intense chiaroscuro and the contrasting nude body of Christ reveal a strong Leonardesque influence, while the tenderness of the figures wrapped in limp drapery recalls the archaic compositions of the northern Versperbilder.
This small devotional work, which was probably painted in Correggio, would have passed very quickly to a notable figure in Parma. Due to its Leonardesque characteristics and some remaining touches of Mantegna, Riccòmini believes that the panel was executed prior to 1514.
Face of Christ
Oil on wood, 24 x 18 cm
Correggio, Civic Museum
The central figure of this panel is the head of Christ crowned with thorns looking towards the observer outside the painting as if he were speaking. The theme and colours are similar to Correggio’s other "Head of Christ" in the Paul Getty Museum. The commissioner of this work is not known. It was first attributed to Antonio Allegri by Roberto Salvini in a letter of 1972. Pierre Mignard painted a splendid copy of it in the 17th century and another copy is present in the collection of the Accademia dei Concordi in Rovigo.
After its appearance on the market, the panel was recognised by Eugenio Riccòmini and purchased by the Fondazione Il Correggio in 1996. Any interpretation of the painting has been comprised by various past conservation efforts; however, a recent restoration by M. Parlatore has been helpful. Favourable opinions on its authenticity have been expressed by S. Béguin, C. Gould, M. Di Gimapaolo and A. Muzzi, while D. Ekserdjian considers it to be a possible work by Correggio.