Antonio Allegri (called Correggio, ?1489-1534)
This work was praised by Vasari as the ‘rarest and most beautiful of his productions’ and by the mid-17th century it was in the possession of Philip IV of Spain.
When the painting arrived in England it attracted the attention of the painter Owen and the President of the Royal Academy, Benjamin West, who declared that it should ‘be framed in diamonds’.
The painting has suffered from damage over the centuries and the canvas has been cut down. Cleaning in the 1940s revealed the figure of the sleeping apostle on the right hand side of the painting. There is a 17th century copy of the painting in the National Gallery, London.
One of the leading painters of the Italian Renaissance, influenced by Leonardo and Giulio Romano, Correggio worked mainly in Correggio (hence the name) and Parma. The cupola frescoes in the Cathedral at Parma are his most famous works.
The painting in the Wellington Collection was one of the most well-known and admired paintings of the High Renaissance.