Painting: The Sensual Innocent

"The Italian Renaissance," wrote the late Bernard Berenson, "was a period in the history of modern Europe comparable to youth in the life of an individual. It had all youth's love of finery and of play." This is true of its art, and never more so than when the work itself was done by a young, aspiring painter. Such is the case with Correggio's youthful masterpiece (opposite), done when the artist was barely 21.

To purchase the painting, the Art Institute of Chicago had to pay a half million dollars and considers it the most important acquisition since El Greco's...

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