Correggio, "Assumption of the Virgin"

This huge fresco (click for better view) took about five years to complete. There’s no way Correggio completed every brushstroke himself – how much help did he have, and what did that help consist of?

Most painters’ shops back then would involve a whole army of assistants (between 2 and 20-- some the standard shop pupils and sometimes extras taken on for large projects). The master would put together the design and “cartoons” (full scale drawings you could transfer to the surface) and then via instructions assistants-- journeymen and pretty fully trained master painters-- would also work in a consistent workshop “hand”/style (the more consistent the hand the better the workshop-- best not to let your freak flag fly). The assistants would do lots of clothing and sky and such, while the master would take over for faces and hands (which was often stipulated in the contracts) and other important bits. You also have a pile of apprentices mixing up paints and cleaning up and such.

Cool! Thanks!

That is quite an assumption, isn’t it?

Well, you know what happens when you assume …

… the skies open up? No, wait, that’s not right …

That seems like quite an assumption in itself. Certainly some renaissance works were largely painted by assistants, but that doesn’t mean they all were. According to Michelangelo’s contemporary Giorgio Vasari, the Sistine Chapel ceiling was painted single-handedly (after a false start). That’s 12,000 square feet between 1508 and 1512.

If you’re lucky, you also get help from the Warner Brothers and Warner Sister. But they’re not doing it for the sake of art, and they’re not doing it for the money: They’re doing it because they like painting naked people on the inside of a church.

True. According to this, the measurements are about 430" x 470", which is about 36’ x 39’, or 1400sq. ft. (is that right?) … which is still awfully damn big, of course.

Vasari is notoriously frequently full of shit with a mess of rhetorical agendas-- take anything he writes with an enormous grain of salt. But four or five years is a fair amount of time for a painting that large even, and even Mike clearly had assistants at least mixing the paint, laying plaster, transferring designs, moving scaffolding, etc., to streamline things, even IF they weren’t painting in skies.

Heey, a holy upskirt! :stuck_out_tongue: