'Christ in Glory' at the Vatican Museums has been recognized as a work by Antonio Allegri
Correggio's Alfa and Omega
On Monday, 27 June, a press conference took place at the Vatican Museums
to present the research that has confirmed the attribution of the Christ in
Glory from the Tryptych of St Mary of Mercy to Antonio Allegri,
known as Correggio. The painting has been in the Holy See's possession
since 1832. The following is the integral text of the presentation given by the
Director of the Vatican Museums and excerpts from several other reports.
In the Pinoteca Vaticana, added to the patrimony of the Holy See in 1832, there is a painting of extraordinary quality and unusual iconography. It shows Christ in full figure, seated on a glory of clouds and little angels which transfigure into clouds. They are clouds substantiated by incorporeal spirits, according to the beautiful idea which Raphael first put into painting in the Disputa del Sacramento and the Madonna di Foligno. Christ opens his arms in a gesture of love. His gaze is benevolent, understanding, transcendent and yet affectionate, like one who knows everything, understands everything, and forgives everything. The Omnipotent in glory of ancient Christian iconography, the Living One of the last days, He who comes on the clouds of heaven to judge the living and the dead, has become the Merciful, the Consoler of the afflicted, the Brother who welcomes his brothers and sisters in an infinite embrace.
20th century critical tradition says it is an ancient copy of an original masterpiece that Antonio Allegri, known as Correggio, painted in the years between 1526 and 1530 for the Confraternity of Mercy of his city. Even though everyone who has examined this painting has always emphasized it very high quality, no one until today had seriously studied it. How can we say with reasonable certainty today, then, that the canvas belongs to the author of the Danae Borghese and the dome of Parma? Above all, for the quality of the painting.
Our maestros (Longhi, Zeri etc.) have taught us that the first test in understanding a work of art is the work itself. Faced with the tender little angels that seems to be made of milk and honey, and the palpitating golden background of lost profiles, of evanescent figures and yet precisely individuated in their angelic consistency, faced with the cloth that covers the lower part of the body of Christ and which appears to us large like the heaven, alive like the clouds that become apostles in the face of St. John the Evangelist in Parma, it is impossible not to recognize the supreme qualities of invention and execution.
If it is a copy, it must have been carried out by an equally great artist. By Annibale Carracci, for example, by someone who through cultural affinity, instinctive empathy and poetic temperament was able to interpret Correggio and “enter” into his painting so completely as to identify with it. Or so it was thought until yesterday.
Today, however, this hypothesis has fallen because the results of the remote sensing produced by the Diagnostic Laboratory of the Vatican Museums (reflectography, restitution in infrared and ultraviolet) demonstrate that underneath the visible picture there is a preliminary sketch design which presents errors and corrections. If it were a copy, there would have been no need to prepare a preliminary sketch nor would there be corrections and errors in its execution. Especially if the painter is a great one, like the one who painted Christ in Glory. All this is to say that we are faced with an original work and not a copy.
Today, in the light of the latest scientific results, the time has come to reconsider its attribution, which has been unjustly denied, or at least, clouded over. For this reason, I wanted to organize a press conference on Monday, June 27, which will illustrate the history of the painting and the important news that has emerged.
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