Mantua in the times of Mantegna

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Mantua in the times of Mantegna

Artists  >  Andrea Mantegna

The relationship of Mantegna with the city of Mantua was preceded by the correspondence exchanged with Ludovico Gonzaga, documented from 1456. During that year Ludovico Gonzaga had just lost the painter of his court, Pisanello, who died around 1455, not after that. He therefore invites Andrea Mantegna to replace him.
Andrea accepts, probably with the intention to move to Mantua after finishing the frescoes of the 0vetari Chapel. But the move is delayed by another important task, because he is commissioned by Gregorio Correr to paint the San Zeno Alterpiece, for the Basilica Maggiore di San Zeno in Verona, one of his most well known masterpieces.

In a letter dated 5th January 1457, Mantegna, still busy working with the San Zeno Altarpiece, receives the permission from Ludovico to finish the Veronese altarpiece. Consequently Andrea moves to Mantua some years later. Many other letters from Gonzaga follow, until in 1459 he receives the invitation to visit the palace chapel, designed by the Florentine architect Luca Fancelli. It turns out to be the first commission from Gonzaga; thus Andrea, in charge both as a painter and a designer, focus on the decoration, taking in consideration the relation between the space, structure and function.

From 1460, Mantegna arrives in Mantua where he stays for the rest of his life, alternating his stay with some trips. As for the cultural scenario of the city, scholars are unable to agree on the influence of the arrival of Andrea. Some maintain a lively cultural agitation; others tend to back up a more provincial situation, identified by some sort of literary erudition and antiquity interest, considering Mantua more like a territory where the echoes of events that unroll in Venice, Urbino, Rimini and mainly Florence are perceived.

With Ludovico Gonzaga the Mantuan culture starts to evolve towards the Renaissance in the second half of the 1400, even acquiring some kind of autonomy with regards to Padua.

In 1459, Leon Battista Alberti is documented to have been in the court of Ludovico, coinciding with the Council of Mantua, and he is followed shortly by Mantegna. Later on, the architectural works in the court of Gonzaga were taken ahead by Luca Fancelli, architect and engineer, and a disciple of Alberti, until 1484.

In 1477, the medals made by Pisanello show already a clear interest of a retrieval of the antique. But another important episode is the project of Donatello for a bronze ark, destined to Mantua Cathedral, but not done because of the sudden departure of this Florentine master.

A. Cocchi

Trad.: A. Sturmer




Tags:A. Cocchi, A. Sturmer, Mantegna, Gonzaga, Dieta.


Per saperne di più sulla città di: Mantova


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Andrea Mantegna. The court of the Gonzaga. Detail 1460. Fresco from the Camera degli Sposi. Mantua, Ducal Palace.


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