Mantegna, Andrea (1431-1506)

"Mantegna, Andrea (1431-1506)" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Thursday 28th April 2011

Andrea Mantegna, Italian painter and engraver, was born in Isola di Carturo, Padua in 1431 and died in Mantua in 1506. Being a pupil and a godson of Francesco Squarcione, he passed a period of artistic formation in culturally rich environment studying works of Tuscanian artists such as Paolo Uccello, Andrea del Castagno, Filippo Lippi and Donatello. The paintings of young Mantegna were lost with the exception of San Marco (Mus. of Frankfurt); later were created the frescoes in the Capella Ovetari agli Eremitani in Padua (Storie dei santi Giacomo e Cristoforo, Assunzione di Maria) (1448 - 1457) executed in collaboration with Nicolo' Pizzolo and lost in their greater part after the bombs of 1944; Polittico di San Luca (Milan, Brera) and Pala di San Zeno (1456, Verona, San Zeno; Paris, Louvre and Tours, Mus. des Beaux-Arts) (see on the right). The contact with his brother-in-low Givanni Bellini could be visible in such works as Orazione nell'orto (London, Nat.Gall.) (see below) and Presentazione al tempio (Berlin, Staatl.Mus.).

Accepting an invitation of marquis Ludovico III Gonzaga, Mantegna moved to Mantua in 1460 where remained as a court painter till the end of his days, leaving it only for two short travels in Tuscany in 1466 and 1467 and for longer sojourn in Rome in 1488-1490, during which he frescoed a chapel for Innocent VIII (destroyed in 1780) in the Vatican Palaces. Together with some portraits: Cardinale Ludovico Mezzarota (Berlin, Staatl.Mus.); Cardinale Carlo de'Medici (Florence, Uffizi) and some paintings on the theme of Madonna col Bambino (Bergamo, Acc.Carrara; Milan, Poldi Pezzoli) (see one of them below)

In the 60's of the 15th century were created various sacred tablets of a great executive quality and noted for the brightness of colors that makes thinking about probable contacts of Mantegna with Piero della Francesca: San Giorgio (Venice, Gall.of Academy) (right); triptych Ascensione di Cristo (left), Adorazione dei Magi, Presentazione al tempio (Florence, Uffizi); Morte della Vergine (Madrid, Prado). But the fame of the artist is connected in particular with the decoration of Camera degli sposi (1465-1474) in Palazzo Ducale in Mantua with the two scenes of life of marquis Ludovico III Gonzaga, nine paintings of Trionfo di Cesare (Hampton Court, Royal Coll.), depicted between 1480 and 1495, where could be find the signs of big attraction of Mantegna to the images of heroic power inspired by the ancient art.
mantegna madonna mantegna christ mantegna orazione mantegna pala
Around 1480 were created San Sebastiano (Paris, Louvre); Madonna delle cave (Florence, Uffizi), dramatic Cristo morto (Milan, Brera) (right). During the last years of life Mantegna depicted Madonna della Vittoria (Paris, Louvre), Madonna Trivulzio (Milan, Castello Sforzesco); Sansone e Dalila; Trionfo di Scipione (London, Nat.Gall.), San Sebastiano of Ca' d'Oro (Venice), all works are characterized by a strong dramatic meaning expressed by acute and torturing modeling of the human bodies, chromatic discord and accent to plastic and illusory effects.

In 1497 Andrea received an order to execute two big paintings for the studio of Isabella d'Este in Mantua : Il Parnaso and Trionfo della Virtu' (Paris, Louvre).

The works of Mantegna as an engraver (very appreciated by his contemporary and artists of later generations) are the tablets on religious and mythological themes: Cristo al Limbo; Baccanali; Zuffa di dei marini; Cristo tra i Santi Andrea e Longino; Deposizione nel sepolcro. They are considered now on the same level as the paintings and masterpieces of the Renaissance.
mantegna san giorgio mantegna ascensione

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