National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds donated by Andrew Sisson, 2011
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
16th & 17th Century Gallery - Painting and Sculpture Mezzanine linked to Level 1, NGV International
Correggio is one of the greatest and most influential figures of the Italian High Renaissance. Painted in the early 1500s, this picture provides great insight into the development of the young Correggio, shedding new light on the extent to which he was prepared to experiment with form, design and the degree of emotional content in his work. A developing sense of humanism is a central characteristic of 14th and 15th century Italian art, culminating in the perfect naturalism of the High Renaissance, with Correggio as one of its most admired and able exponents.
The Correggio Madonna and Child with infant Saint John the Baptist, c.1514-15, was acquired in 2011. It came with a frame that had been fitted in London at the time of sale.(above) The frame is carved and gilded, in the form of strongly articulated vines and leaves. One section lacks the bunches of grapes that appear on the other three and it is reasonable to assume the frame has been cut down from a larger format and in some way altered to fit the painting. The frame is deep in section and formed a substantial decorative edge around the painting. When the painting was cleaned and restored in 2012-13 a re-assessment of the framing was made. Correggio designed a number of frames for large altar compositions, these taking the form of Tabernacle frames. Several are still in existence. Using this knowledge – a small scale tabernacle frame was sought to reframe the NGV acquisition.
Small scale tabernacle frames from particular regional areas of Italy form a select group and are rarely for sale. An early sixteenth century tabernacle style frame from Northern Italy was found in London. The frame was a very close fit to the painting – requiring a thin in-fill strip on each vertical of the sight edge. The frame is likely to be slightly later than the painting (perhaps around 1530), reflecting mannerist tendencies in the disconnected columns and broken pediment, it nevertheless formed an interesting relationship with the painting. After considerable reflection and discussion the frame was purchased in order to present the painting as near as possible to the way it would have been presented in the sixteenth century.