Presentation at the Temple

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Presentation at the Temple

Artists  >  Andrea Mantegna

Andrea Mantegna's Presentation at the Temple was executed in tempera on canvas, and it is housed in the Staatliche Museen, in Berlin.
It is a particularly interesting painting that was the subject of many questions and subsequent research from scholars.
First of all, the iconography, with the Virgin, the Child and a priest in the foreground and several witnesses around, seems to have offered the starting point for a direct reference to the personal life of the artist. That is said because after appropriate research scholars have recognised the self-portrait of Andrea Mantegna and the portrait of his wife Nicolosia Bellini, daughter of Jacopo Bellini and sister of Giambellini in the character on the far right and the female figure on the far left respectively. Their wedding had taken place between 1452 and 1453, so the painting is thought to have been done after this event, probably between 1454 and 1455.
This dating is also confirmed by stylistic analysis that discloses a strong closeness to Bellini: these are actually the years when the friendship between Mantegna and Giambellino provoked an influence on both artists, with strong similarities, as much as to make scholars mix up their works.

In the Venetian Gallery Querini Stampalia, for example, there is another Presentation at the Temple, a work by Giambellino, which went through changes of credits, and that offered the opportunity for an interesting confrontation between the two artists and this phase of expressive closeness.

In Mantegna's version anyway, the fluidity of the light, modulated on shades, makes one think of a very direct contribution from Giovanni Bellini, but the shortened perspective and the expressive efficiency of the composition are typical from Mantegna.

The dark background concentrates the attention on the intense expression of the faces, that seem burdened with the awareness of the passion of Christ.

As for the iconography, the Presentation offers both a classic derivation and a return to the medieval Christian tradition. The return to the old Roman tomb stones can be recognized, as those of the Vatican Museum; on the other hand, the icon's votive tradition is also retaken through the solemnity of the scene. Yet the narration of the sacred story is seen according to a Renaissance view, interpreted according to a universal vision of the drama of the human being.

A. Cocchi

Trad.: A. Sturmer



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:A. Cocchi, A. Sturmer, Mantegna, painting, temple, .


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Andrea Mantegna. Presentation at the Temple. 1455. Tempera on canvas. 68.9 86.3 cm. Berlin, Staatliche Museen

Giovanni Bellini, Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, detail, 1470 circa, Venice, Querini Stampalia Foundation.


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