Mantegna, Andrea


Mantegna, Andrea
(1431-1506)
   North Italian painter, trained at Padua but also influenced by Florentine artists, especially the sculptor Donatello, who worked in Padua while Mantegna was an apprentice, and by the treatise Della pittura by Leon Battista Alberti, who provided the earliest clear description of the principles of vanishing-point perspective. Mantegna must also have closely studied Roman monuments available in northern Italy, an influence evident in his frescoes in the Church of the Eremitani at Padua, such as St. James Led to His Execution, the most important product of his early period. His St. Sebastian, painted shortly after he left Padua to become court painter to Ludovico Gonzaga, marquis of Mantua, also uses classical architecture as background but demonstrates a new attention to color which is usually attributed (though without decisive evidence) to popular interest in the colorful paintings of the Flemish style that had developed in Florence and Venice between 1430 and 1450. Mantegna's most important work for the marquis of Mantua was the set of frescoes depicting the ruling family painted between 1465 and 1474 in the Camera degli Sposi of the palace.
   Mantegna continued to work for Ludovico's successor Federigo and especially for Federigo's wife, Isabella d'Este. He undertook a series of allegorical paintings for Isabella's new palace. Except for the short-lived Masaccio, Mantegna was the most talented painter of the early Renaissance (or Quattrocento) style, and the length of his life meant that he had considerable influence on later artists. His marriage to a sister of the Venetian painters Gentile and Giovanni Bellini extended his influence to Venice, and his work as a print-maker spread his influence not only throughout Italy but also into northern Europe, where Albrecht Dürer was affected by his prints.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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