Andrea Mantegna

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Mantegna, Andrea

(ändrĕ`ä mäntĕ`nyä), 1431–1506, Italian painter of the Paduan school. He was adopted by Squarcione, whose apprentice he remained until 1456, when he procured his release. In 1454 he had married the daughter of Jacopo Bellini and by 1460 he had entered the service of the Gonzagas in Mantua, in which he continued all his life. Mantegna was one of the greatest and most celebrated artists of N Italy. His passion for the antique is evidenced in all his work, and he was one of the first artists to make an extensive collection of Greek and Roman works. A rigorous draftsman and anatomist and a perfectionist in perspective, he nevertheless gave to his statuesque forms an intense and dramatic life. Among his early works the most celebrated are his frescoes of the lives of St. James and St. Christopher (Church of the Eremitani, Padua, destroyed in World War II); St. Luke altarpiece (Milan); and San Zeno altarpiece (Verona; parts are at the Louvre and Tours). In Mantua he decorated the bridal chamber of the Gonzaga palace with frescoes portraying many members of the family and other notables (completed 1474). On the ceiling he created the illusion of sky, a form of decoration that became very popular in the baroque period. Mantegna also painted nine cartoons depicting the Triumph of Caesar (Hampton Court Palace) and a Pietà (Milan). About 1497 he executed for Isabella d'Este Parnassus and Triumph of Virtue (Louvre). The Metropolitan Museum has his Adoration of the Shepherds. Mantegna is also noted for his drawings and copper-plate engravings. Early in his career he illustrated two manuscripts intended for René, duke of Anjou. In his initial letters for Strabo's Geography, he recaptured the art of Roman inscriptions. His lettering had a great influence on the development of printing. Among his engravings are Virgin and Child, Battle of the Sea Gods, and the Entombment.


See Complete Paintings of Mantegna, ed. by L. Coletti (1970); L. Berti, Mangegna (1964).

Mantegna, Andrea


Born in 1431, in Isola di Carturo, Veneto; died Sept. 13, 1506, in Mantua. Italian painter and engraver of the Early Renaissance. Representative of the Padua School.

Mantegna studied with his foster father, F. Squarcione, in Padua (1441[?]-1448). He was influenced by Donatello, Andrea del Castagno, and Venetian painting. Of immense importance to his development were his study of ancient Roman sculpture and architectural ornamentation and his love for archaeology and epigraphy. Mantegna introduced into religious compositions a heroic attitude that expressed a fervent belief in the strength and dignity of the human personality. In one of his early works, the frescoes in the Ovetari Chapel in the Church of the Eremitani in Padua (1449-55; almost completely destroyed in 1944), Mantegna revealed his taste for a severe, architectonic composition and foreshortening. In this and in succeeding works he developed his style, in which the colors, with their metallic sheen, resemble precious enamels. (A good example is the altarpiece and predella for the Church of St. Zeno Maggiore in Verona [1457-1459]. The altarpiece is kept at the church, but panels from the predella are in the Louvre [Paris] and at the Museum of Fine Arts in Tours.) In Mantegna’s works the landscape backgrounds, which are dominated by crystal-like rock formations, and the surrounding scenes reveal the heroic principle.

From 1460, Mantegna lived in Mantua at the court of Lodovico Gonzaga. In the frescoes of the Camera degli Sposi in the Castello San Giorgio (1474) he achieved a synthesis of architecture (the real and the drawn architectural space) and painting, seeking the visual and spatial unity of the interior. The illusionistic effects of the frescoes (the imitation of a round window in the ceiling, for example) anticipate similar works by Correggio. The cycle of monochromatic panels, The Triumph of Caesar (1485-88, 1490-92, Hampton Court, London), is imbued with the harsh spirit of Roman antiquity.

Mantegna’s later works include mythological allegorical compositions for Isabella d’Este’s study (for example, Parnassus, 1497, the Louvre, Paris) and a cycle of monochromes (for example, Samson and Delilah, early 1500’s, National Gallery, London). His graphics (seven copper engravings entitled Combat of Marine Gods, 1470; and Lamentation, or Dead Christ, c. 1500) are almost equal to his paintings in the monumentality of their images. In them the forms are characterized by a chiselled plasticity, and modeling is achieved with delicate strokes.


Znamerovskaia, T. P. Andrea Mantegna. Leningrad, 1961.
Lazarev, V. N. “Mantegna.” In his book Starye Ital’ianskie Mastera. Moscow, 1972. Pages 201-70.
Kristeller, P. A. Mantegna. Berlin-Leipzig, 1902.
Fiocco, G. Mantegna. Milan, 1937.
Tietze-Conrat, E. Mantegna. London, 1955.
Paccagnini, G. Andrea Mantegna. Milan, 1961.