Artibus et Historiae no. 18 (IX)

1988, ISSN 0391-9064

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CECIL GOULD - A Major New Attribution to the Young Correggio

At the suggestion of Dr. Paolo Piva, the end wall of the refectory of the former monastery of S. Benedetto Po (Mantova) has recently been stripped of whitewash to reveal a large and elaborate architectural fresco surrounding a blank rectangle inset into the wall. There is evidence that this inset area originally contained a free copy in oils of Leonardo's Last Supper. Vasari mentions this copy as the work of Fra Girolamo, a brother of Francesco Bonsignori. This Last Supper is now in the museum at Badia Polesine. A letter from the year 1509 by Gregorio Cortese, who was cellerario of S. Benedetto Po, says that he wanted to get Raphael to paint the refectory wall. As that proved impossible, he proposed to entrust the work to a young and promising painter whom he does not name. In 1514 the young Correggio was commissioned to pain some organ shutters for S. Benedetto. It is suggested that the painter to whom Cortese referred was Correggio and that he is responsible for the newly uncovered fresco. It would be among his earliest works.

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