Corregio’s Assumption of the Virgin: a Blasphemer’s Perspective

photo courtesy

Just yesterday, I was talking with a friend of mine about this image. Now, before I continue writing further, I should state that if you are very religious or are an art historian you may not want to read this. It will not impress you in the least. I will henceforth go into some immature and possibly even juvenile ramblings about this image. So, as stated before, if you take art or religion very seriously, stop reading. NOW. I really mean it.

Back to yesterday. My friend was discussing the idea of assumption and the concepts of rapture and being assumed into the heavens. I recalled an art history class from college, and said, “Yeah, you know, you just reminded me of Corregio’s Assumption of the Virgin. I love that piece, but there are several things I find weird about it.”

First of all, as it is central to the piece, why do we get an upskirt of the Virgin? There was a lot of sensual imagery around during Corregio’s time, but, this does, indeed, seem a little much. Apparently he may have caught some flack for this.

Of course, as it is painted on the ceiling of the Duomo in Parma, this is very realistic. If you had been present to see Mary ascend, it would have very likely looked just like this. And the intention is to make it seem as though you’re right behind. Like you might be next in line to get sucked up by a cosmic vacuum. (Hoover could get a real line going with that one…divine suction power).

I told you things might get juvenile.

To continue on Mary’s travels, it does almost seem as if she is spinning upward. (Play with the “rotate” button on your computer with this image and you’ll see precisely what I mean.) So Corregio and his apprentices were actually very good at creating an image that has a lot of action in it. Mary swirls upward into the heavens. Don’t you hope your assumption might be just as fun? Maybe you could land in Oz and take down a wicked witch in the same go.

Of course, many people are watching Mary’s ascent and even guiding her. A very depressed Eve even makes a cameo. I’m throwing a bone to the theologians out there. Here is what another blogger has to say about the piece (credit

Poor Eve. Hasn’t she been through enough already? Now her eternity of shame is permanently frescoed into history. So she passes on the apple to Mary. “Here, I’m tired of being the one blamed for all the $%*! going wrong in the world. Your turn.”

Of course, there are several other important figures to help Mary find her way (the Wizard of Oz correlation is becoming more and more evident here). St. John the Baptist apparently got so tired of waiting for her he plumped up some cloud-pillows,  hired some angels to hold him up, and just plopped himself and his sheep right down at the 50-yard line. (following courtesy wikipedia).

The apostles do look as though they’re about to break into song and dance (courtesy wikipaintings):

Oh, no, now that The Book of Mormon is out, can we look forward to Assumption, the Musical? (coming August 15th, worldwide).

Fortunately, Mary some little Munchkins–I mean, angels…snatch her up toward the top and carry her into the Hereafter.

Actually, I take it all back. All of it. Assumption would make a much better theme park ride than a musical or film. But then what would be have to look forward to?


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