Mantegna, Andrea (1431?-1506) was an Italian painter and engraver. Mantegna painted heroic figures, often using a dramatic perspective that gives the viewer the illusion of looking up from below. The effect is somewhat the same as looking up from ground level at statues mounted on a pedestal. 

  Mantegna was born about 1431 near Vicenza, Italy. When he was about 10 years old he was adopted by Francesco Squarcione, an art teacher in Padua. Mantegna's skill as an artist developed quickly, and at the age of 17 he set up his own workshop, declaring that he would no longer allow Squarcione to profit by exploiting his talent. There was much interest in Padua at that time in collecting and studying Roman antiquities. Mantegna knew many of the scholars and antiquarians who were involved in this work, and his knowledge of the culture of ancient Rome is apparent in his art. His paintings helped foster the growing interest in the revival of classical forms. In 1453 Mantegna married Nicolosia Bellini, whose brothers, Gentile and Giovanni Bellini, were also artists, and both of whom did work that shows Mantegna's influence. Mantegna remained in Padua until 1459, when Ludovico Gonzaga persuaded him to move to Mantua. He worked for the Gonzaga family for the rest of his life. For them Mantegna created some of his greatest paintings. In one famous work, called the Camera degli Sposi (wedding chamber), he painted the walls and ceiling of a small interior room, transforming it into an open-air pavilion. On the ceiling a painted dome opens onto a painted sky, with painted men and women looking down from above. Rooms creating this sort of illusion became very popular in the Baroque era of the 1600s. A series of nine paintings, "Triumph of Caesar", that Mantegna started in 1486 shows his interest in imperial Rome. Mantegna died in Mantua in 1506 and received the special honor of having a funeral chapel in the church of Santa Andrea dedicated to his honor.


"The Lamentation over the Dead Christ" (1490) Tempera on canvas, 68 x 81 cm - 26.8 x 31.9 in. Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, Italy.

"Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian" (circa 1480) Tempera on canvas, 255 × 140 cm - 100.39 × 55.12 in. Louvre Museum, Paris, France.

"The Agony in the Garden" (between 1458-60) Tempera on panel, 63 × 80 cm - 24.8 × 31.5 in. National Gallery, London, UK.

"The court of Mantua" Fresco. Camera degli Sposi, Palazzo Ducale, Mantua, Italy.

"The Madonna of the Cherubim" (1485)

"Holy Family with St. Elizabeth and John the Baptist" (3rd third of 15th century) Oil on canvas, 75 × 61 cm - 29.5 x 24 in. Gemäldegalerie, Dresden, Germany.

"Portrait of a Man" (circa 1470) Tempera on panel transferred to canvas and then to hardboard, 24.2 x 19.1 cm - 9.5 x 7.5 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA.

"Portrait of a Prelate of Gonzaga House" (circa 1461) Tempera on canvas, 25.5 × 18 cm - 10 x 7.1 in. Galleria Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy.

Text source: 'Webmuseum' (

Related Artists:

Related Terms: Renaissance, Classicism, Perspective, Foreshortening.


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