Theses Doctoral

Correggio and the Sacred Image

Switzer, Sara Emily

This study takes as its starting point the artist's elusive pictorial surfaces in order to address changing notions of interiority in early sixteenth-century Italy. Correggio's innovative treatment of these surfaces -- what is referred to in the critical tradition in terms of softness, melting, and erasure -- enacts the desire to grasp a divinity at once human and ineffable. As such, it evokes the lyrical self-expression of the language of the Italian reform movements. A varied collection of voices, these currents of religious reform share an emphasis on achieving the ecstatic effects of authentic devotional feeling. The articulation of intense longing characteristic of this discourse coincides with similar modes of expression woven into the criticism around Correggio's painting. The language of Italian reform in this way offers a conceptual frame for understanding the resonance of the artist's distinct pictorial touch. At the same time, Correggio's melting surfaces represent an ideal metaphor for a mode of engagement that can be said to define what might otherwise be characterized only as a loosely connected series of devotional declarations. By tracing the parallels between artistic and spiritual practices, I offer new insights into facets of Italian Renaissance culture that have remained to a large extent unexplored.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Thesis Advisors
Rosand, David
Freedberg, David A.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 25, 2012