Correggio accommodated the larger space of the octagonal cupola of Parma Cathedral by increasing the number of figures and the complexity of the design. A series of foreshortened figures acts as a device to visually lead the viewer up into the dome. Four gigantic saints provide a sense of support for the drum. As in the earlier frescoes for the cupola of San Giovanni Evangelista, Christ appears in the centre now much reduced in size, so as to emphasize a greater implied and actual distance.
The fresco of the Assumption of the Virgin in the dome of the cathedral of Parma marks the culmination of Correggio's career as a mural painter. This fresco (a painting in plaster with water-soluble pigments) anticipates the Baroque style of dramatically illusionistic ceiling painting. The entire architectural surface is treated as a single pictorial unit of vast proportions, equating the dome of the church with the vault of heaven. The realistic way the figures in the clouds seem to protrude into the spectators' space is an audacious and astounding use for the time of foreshortening.
The figures are in the triangular spandrel in the sixth bay between Daniel and the Cumaean Sibyl. The spandrel is situated over the Asa-Jehoshaphat-Joram lunette.
The field of the spandrel is almost entirely occupied by the figure of the sleeping woman, seated in the foreground on a white sack. The brightness of the colours of her robe contrast with the shadows in the background which shroud the figures of the man and child.
It is assumed that in the background Asa, the future king is consoling his father (a destroyer of idols) in pilgrim robe, while his mother (a worshipper of idols) is sleeping in the foreground.