Circumcision



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Circumcision

Chapel of St. George, Mantua  >  Triptych of the Uffizi

Andrea Mantegna has set the Circumcision in a classic sumptuous building. It is painted on wood and it was made between 1460 and 1464 to decorate the Ducal Chapel of the Castel of S. George in Mantua. The work, part of the Triptych of the Uffizi, bears a frame from the 1800s and is today housed in the historical Florentine museum together with the Adoration of the Magi and the Ascension.

The chosen subject is part of the iconographic programme that Mantegna elaborated for Ludovico II Gonzaga and returns to the subject of the Redemption which is the tendency of the chapel's decoration.

According to the traditional Christian iconography, the Circumcision is the episode of Jesus life understood as the anticipation of the Passion, representing the first occasion when the blood of Christ is shed.

Another reminder of the martyrdom of the Saviour is indicated by the Binding of Isaac, represented in the lunette to the left, while Moses holding the Ten Commandments is placed on the lunette to the right, hinting to the New Covenant established between God and mankind with the promise of salvation through the Crucifixion of Jesus. But the interpretation of this evangelic episode, according to Mantegna scholars, avoided a very dramatic interpretation, choosing a softer and subtle melancholic tone. It refers to the Greek iconography of the Presentation at the Temple, less bloody then the Circumcision.

The subject of Christ's blood is not only the linking thread between the episode of the Circumcision and the Passion, but also an important link with Mantua, since it refers to the relic of the Holy Blood, kept in the church of S. Andrew in Mantua.

Apart from the priest and cleric with the tray, the other characters in the scene are those of the holy family, Joseph and the Madonna with Child. The old prophetess Anna can be identified on the right, while the child with the doughnut could be the young John the Baptist.

S. Joseph moves forward slowly, holding the cloak and a basket with two doves as an offer to the owner of the temple. His face and the clothes, and even the colours, remind of S. Peter of the San Zeno Altarpiece in Verona, painted by Mantegna just before leaving for Mantua.

In the centre, the Madonna blends the gentleness and the Gothic surge with the solid volumetry and human presence, which is a characteristic of Mantegna's modern style.
The frightened Child is the most dynamic character of the scene, agitated and grabbing hold, an efficient contrast with the mother who holds him.
The raised arm of the old priest is followed by the attentive glances of those present, who wait patiently.

The composition of the painting is strictly articulated on a horizontal and vertical grid where the architecture lines are arranged with the central pivot of the yellow marble column. The organized distribution of the characters is consistent with the rhythm of the architectural elements; the formal analogies between the cylindrical bodies and the shaft of the central column emphasise not only the perfect synchronisation between space and image, but also reinforce the particular sensation of suspended time of the scene.

The range of rich and warm colours, the golden light and the play of reflection and shade that permeate the atmosphere determine the particular suggestion that this painting wants to communicate.

The architecture of the setting is re-linked to the one that Luciano Laurana, engaged in Mantua in 1465, had designed for the Chapel of Forgiveness in Urbino, suggesting an interesting relationship between Andrea Mantegna and the Dalmatian architect.
Other architectonic and decorative details are found in the S. Sebastian of the Kunsthistorisches of Vienna, made by Andrea roughly a decade before, during his stay in Padua.

 

A. Cocchi

Trad.: A. Sturmer


Bibliography

Lionello Puppi Cianfrusaglie reperti e un talent scout in: Il Romanzo della pittura. Masaccio e Piero. Supplemento al n° 29 de "la Repubblica" del 2.11.1988
Claudia Cleri Via Mantegna. Art eDossier n.55. Giunti, Firenze. 1991
M. Bellonci, N. Garavaglia L'opera completa di Mantegna. Classici dell'arte Rizzoli, Milano 1966
La Nuova Enciclopedia dell'Arte Garzanti.
AA.VV. Moduli di Arte. Dal Rinascimento maturo al rococò. Electa-Bruno Mondadori, Roma 2000
A. Blunt Le teorie artistiche in Italia dal Rinascimento al Manierismo. Piccola Biblioteca Einaudi, Giulio Einaudi Editore, Torino 1966
G. Cricco, F. Di Teodoro, Itinerario nell’arte, vol. 2, Zanichelli Bologna 2004
G. Dorfles, S. Buganza, J. Stoppa Storia dell'arte. Vol II Dal Quattrocento al Settecento. Istituto Italiano Edizioni Atlas, Bergamo 2008


 

Tags:Alessandra Cocchi, A. Sturmer, Mantegna, Circumcision, chapel, St. George, painting, Reinassance, art, .

Stile:Quattrocento.

Per saperne di più sulla città di: Firenze, Uffizi

 



Per informazioni su questi dipinti clicca qui.

 


Andrea Mantegna. Circumcision. Detail of the Binding of Isaac. Tempera on wood. 42,5X76,5cm. Florence, Uffizi


Andrea Mantegna. Circumcision. Tempera on wood. 42,5X76,5cm. Florence, Uffizi


Andrea Mantegna. Circumcision. Detail of Moses with the Ten Commandments. Tempera on wood. 42,5X76,5am. Florence, Uffizi


Andrea Mantegna. Circumcision. Detail of the decoration. Tempera on wood. 42,5X76,5cm. Florence, Uffizi


Andrea Mantegna. Circumcision. Detail of the Madonna with Child and priest. Tempera on wood, 42,5X76,5cm. Florence, Uffizi



 

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