The Council of Mantua

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The Council of Mantua

Artists  >  Andrea Mantegna

The Council of all European Christian Princes was called in 1458 in Mantua by Pope Pius II, to organize a Crusade against the Turkish.
The choice of Mantua was the fruit of the diplomatic operations of Ludovico Gonzaga, and became the opportunity to renew the city and its court in conformity with this important role. The Marquis made every effort to make a transformation of very big scale, with the intention of presenting it to all other Princes as the "New Rome".
According to the self-celebrating undertaking, the "renovatio urbi" reflected the "renovatio imperii" and the recovery of the classical is inserted in this precise political plan.

The restructuring of the S. George Castle, by the Florentine artist Luca Fancelli, who moved to Mantua on purpose to do this job, answered directly to this desire of continuity with the idea of Rome. The house of the Gonzagas therefore joined the Renaissance theory in several aspects, mainly with regards to the Treat of Leon Battista Alberti. The fortress character, dominating but at the same time in harmony with the city, answered to the Albertian theory, but was also partly seen in the examples of the Borgo and Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome.

Moreover, the typology seems to come from - even if with a certain interpretation of the old model of City-palace - initially from Campidoglio and then taken up by several Italian centres and also used by Fancelle first in the Palazzo Rovere and then in the "Domus Nova".

Besides the restructuring works of the castle, the decoration by Mantegna was put on the general programme of celebration and recovery of the old, of which Mantegna was fully aware. This way, the extraordinary frescoes that he painted in the Chapel, in the Camera degli Sposi and the paintings of the Triumphs of Caesar glorify the Gonzagas, offering at the same time a spectacular, religious and commemorative image.

The Chapel, decorated in 1459 at the time of the Council, celebrates the city of Mantua as New Rome and New Jerusalem through the frescoes. It is the keeper of the Relic of the Holy Blood, which is located in the nearby Basilica of Sant'Andrea.

The new destination of the Marquis was the Camera degli sposi (Bridal Chambers). He moved there from the apartments in the Corte Vecchia (Old Court) and it is a testimony of the passage from the late Gothic culture to the Renaissance, based in a careful recovery of the classical.

Alessandra Cocchi

Trad.: A. Sturmer



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Tags:A. Sturmer, Alessandra Cocchi, Mantua, Mantegna, Gonzaga, Renaissance, .


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Andrea Mantegna. Famigli con cavallo e cani. Detail from the Camera degli Sposi. Fresco. Mantua, Ducal Palace

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