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Mantegna, Andrea [Italian, 1431-1506]


[ Biography | 15th Century Artists | Early Renaissance Artists ]
portrait

Mantegna, Andrea (1431?-1506). An Italian painter and engraver, Mantegna painted heroic figures, often using a dramatic perspective that gives the viewer the illusion of looking up from below. The effect is somewhat the same as looking up from ground level at statues mounted on a pedestal.

Mantegna was born about 1431 near Vicenza, Italy. When he was about 10 years old he was adopted by Francesco Squarcione, an art teacher in Padua. Mantegna's skill as an artist developed quickly, and at the age of 17 he set up his own workshop, declaring that he would no longer allow Squarcione to profit by exploiting his talent.

There was much interest in Padua at that time in collecting and studying Roman antiquities. Mantegna knew many of the scholars and antiquarians who were involved in this work, and his knowledge of the culture of ancient Rome is apparent in his art. His paintings helped foster the growing interest in the revival of classical forms. In 1453 Mantegna married Nicolosia Bellini, whose brothers, Giovanni and Gentile Bellini, were also artists, and both of whom did work that shows Mantegna's influence.

Mantegna remained in Padua until 1459, when Ludovico Gonzaga persuaded him to move to Mantua. He worked for the Gonzaga family for the rest of his life. For them Mantegna created some of his greatest paintings. In one famous work, called the Camera degli Sposi (wedding chamber), he painted the walls and ceiling of a small interior room, transforming it into an open-air pavilion. On the ceiling a painted dome opens onto a painted sky, with painted men and women looking down from above. Rooms creating this sort of illusion became very popular in the baroque era of the 1600s.

A series of nine paintings, Triumph of Caesar, that Mantegna started in 1486 shows his interest in imperial Rome. Mantegna died in Mantua in 1506 and received the special honor of having a funeral chapel in the church of Santa Andrea dedicated to his honor.

The image accompanying this article is a Self-portrait — a Grotesque Self-portrait of Andrea Mantegna — painted between 1465 and 1474. It was created using walnut oil on plaster, and is hanging at the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua.

From October of 1916 through January of 1917, Rudolf Steiner gave a series of nine lectures known as the Art Course. These lectures were given the title of: The History of Art. Click here to discover what Steiner said about Mantegna in the first lecture, or in the entire lecture series.

RS Archive pages at Powell's Books

  Mantegna, Andrea [Italian, 1431-1506]

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