Antonio Allegri was known as Il Correggio after the city of his birth. His early years are difficult to reconstruct although it is thought that he trained in Mantua where he became familiar with the art of Mantegna and Costa, who influenced his style. Alternatively he may have trained in Modena with the painter Francesco de’ Bianchi Ferrari. The Virgin of Saint Francis of 1514–15 (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin) is his first documented work and reveals the combined influences of Mantegna and Leonardo da Vinci. It is thought that between 1518 and 1519 Correggio may have visited Rome, but this trip is not documented. In 1519 he moved to Parma where he spent most of the following decade. His most celebrated works from this period are the frescoes in San Giovanni Evangelista, particularly the magnificent Vision of Saint John on Patmos on the dome. As a result of the success of this project, in 1522 Correggio was commissioned to decorate the dome, apse and ceiling of the choir of Parma cathedral. He only, however, executed the dome, which he completed in 1530 and which depicts The Assumption of the Virgin. Correggio returned to his native city in 1530, remaining there until his death four years later. The most important commissions of his last years were mythological paintings including Danäe (Galleria Borghese, Rome), Leda (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin), and Ganymede (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna), all works of great sophistication and sensuality.

Correggio was one of the most important of the 16th-century painters but he became more celebrated after his death. Among the Cinquecento painters he was one of the most important for the Baroque and continued to be extremely influential throughout much of the 17th century.