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Definition: Mantegna, Andrea from Philip's Encyclopedia

Italian painter and engraver. In 1460, he became court painter to the Gonzaga family in Mantua, and decorated the Camera degli Sposi in the Duke's palace. This room contains the first example of illusionistic architecture to have been created since antiquity. Mantegna's other great work for the Gonzagas was his series of oil paintings, The Triumph of Caesar (c.1480-95).

Summary Article: Mantegna, Andrea (c. 1431–1506)
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Italian painter and engraver. He painted religious and mythological subjects, his works noted for their all'antica style taking elements from Roman antique architecture and sculpture, and for their innovative use of perspective.

Mantegna was born in Vicenza. He was brought up and trained by Francesco Squarcione at Padua, his master entering him in the guild of painters before he was eleven. Like Squarcione, and indeed most north Italian artists, he was influenced by the scuptures of Donatello at Padua, and he was later impressed by the paintings of the Florentines, Uccello and Filippo Lippi. As well as Florentine styles, Mantegna was influenced by Venetian fashion, in particular the style of Jacopo Bellini, whose daughter Lodovisia he married 1453.

Becoming the Gonzaga family's court painter in 1460, he painted the frescoes of the Camera degli Sposi (Bridal Chamber) in the Castello, which portrayed the Gonzaga family on the walls, and the first Renaissance illusionistic ceiling painting above. His Vatican frescoes of 1488 were later destroyed, but the series of tempera paintings of the Triumph of Caesar (1490) for the Gonzagas survives at Hampton Court, London.

Early paintings that won him fame were his frescoes in the Eremitani church at Padua, 1449–54. These were mainly destroyed in World War II, though two sections moved to Venice remain. Also from this period is The Agony in the Garden, (c. 1455, National Gallery, London). The background was probably taken in essentials from a drawing by Jacopo Bellini, but the sculptural quality, the effects of perspective and foreshortening, and the austerity of form, were Mantegna's own.

He went to Verona in 1459 and painted an altarpiece for the Church of St Zeno, then moved to Mantua in 1460 at the invitation of Lodovico Gonzaga, remaining in the service of the Gonzagas for the rest of his life. Among the frescoes he undertook for them was the Camera degli Sposi of the Castello di Corte, the painted cupola of the ceiling representing figures foreshortened round a balcony with open sky beyond, a feat of an illusionism later imitated by Correggio and baroque painters. Cartoons for the decoration of a theatre in this palace (not carried out) constitute the famous Triumph of Caesar, in nine large sections, painted in tempera, 1482–92, bought with other treasures of the Gonzagas by Charles I of England. While this work was in progess Mantegna visited Rome to paint frescoes in the Chapel of the Belvedere (since destroyed). The cartoons again show his fascination with classical antiquity and suggest an attempt to rival Roman narrative relief sculpture in painting.

Later pictures include the Lamentation (Brera, Milan), with its dramatic foreshortening of the body of the dead Christ, the Madonna della Vittoria (Louvre, Paris), celebrating a Mantuan victory over the French, and two paintings intended for the boudoir of Isabella d'Este at Mantua, the Parnassus and Virtue Triumphant over Vice (Louvre, Paris), in which Mantegna shows a graceful fancy strikingly different from his usual austerity. As an engraver he was highly original in the style and straight-line shading of his religious and mythological copperplates.


Mantegna, Andrea The Ascension of Christ into Heaven

Mantegna, Andrea The Duke's Grooms

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