Andrea Mantegna Timeline

Andrea Mantegna Timeline

  • c. 1431

    The Italian Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna is born in Isola di Cartura near Padua.

  • c. 1431 - 1506

    Life of the Italian Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna.

  • 1449 - 1456

    The Italian Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna works on frescoes in the Ovetari chapel of the Eremitani church of Padua.

  • 1453

    The Italian Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna marries the daughter of Jacopo Bellini.

  • c. 1455 - c. 1460

    The Italian Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna works on his painting The Agony in the Garden.

  • c. 1459

    The Italian Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna moves to Verona and works on an altarpiece for the Church of Saint Zeno.

  • 1460

    The Italian Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna becomes the court artist of the Gonzaga family of Mantua.

  • 1465 - 1474

    The Italian Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna works on his fresco cycles in the Palazzo Ducale of Mantua.

  • 1488

    The Italian Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna is commissioned by the Pope to produce frescoes in the Vatican’s Chapel of the Belvedere.

  • c. 1490

    The Italian Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna produces his engraving the Battle of the Sea Gods.

  • 1490

    The Italian Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna produces his Triumph of Caesar tempera panels.

  • 1497

    The Italian Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna produces his painting Parnassus.

  • c. 1502

    The Italian Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna produces his painting Virtue Triumphant over Vice.

ਊndrea Mantegna.

Andrea Mantegna was born about 1431 in the Republic of Venice. The son of a carpenter he grew up in Padua. At the early age of eleven, he became the apprentice of Francesco Squarcione an archaeologist, painter, and dealer in antiquities.

"St. James led to his Execution." (s) Only photographs exist of this work, it was destroyed during the allied bombing in WW2.

Squarcione's workshop was famous throughout Italy and it was here that his young pupil studied Roman art and sculpture. The artist's main influences at this time are Donatello and classical sculpture.

Squarcione was quite a prickly character and he soon fell out with his precocious young pupil, and the apprenticeship finally ended in a violent argument and a lawsuit. 

Andrea was known to be working on frescoes for the Ovetari Chapel in 1448 when he was only seventeen but this work was almost destroyed in a bombing raid in 1944.

In this series of paintings, the use of his worms-eye view is very evident in the St. James led to his Execution, and is a good example of the artist's understanding of perspective.

In 1454 the artist married Nicolosia the daughter of Jacobo Bellini and so became the brother in law of the painters Giovanni and Gentile Bellini.

Between 1456 and 1459 Andrea painted a triptych for the altarpiece of San Zeno the main church of Verona.

The Venetian School: Concepts, Styles, and Trends


Giovanni Bellini was the first great portraitist among Venetian artists, as his Doge Leonardo Loredan (1501) created a compelling image that, while naturalistic and conveying the play of light and color, idealized the subject and his social role as leader of Venice. The much-acclaimed work fueled the demand for portraiture by aristocrats and wealthy merchants, who sought a naturalistic treatment that simultaneously conveyed their social importance.

Giorgione and Titian both pioneered new treatments of the portrait. Giorgione's Young Woman (1506) developed the new genre of the erotic portrait that was, subsequently, widely adopted. Titian extended the view of the subject to include most of the figure, as seen in his Portrait of Pope Paul III (c. 1553), and emphasized not the idealized role, but the psychological complexity of his subjects.

Paolo Veronese also painted noted portraits, as seen in his Portrait of a Man (c. 1576-1578) showing a full-length view of an aristocrat dressed in black standing against a pediment with columns. Jacopo Tintoretto was also known for his compelling self-portraits.

Mythological Subjects

Bellini pioneered the mythological subject in his Feast of the Gods (1504). Titian further developed the genre into depictions of bacchanal scenes such as his Bacchus and Ariadne (1522-1523), painted for the Duke of Ferrera's private chamber. Venetian patrons were particularly drawn to art based upon classical Greek myths, since such subjects, unconstrained by religious or moralistic messages, could be enjoyed for their eroticism and hedonism. Titian's work included a wide range of mythological subjects, as he created six large paintings for King Phillip II of Spain including his Danae (1549-1550), a woman seduced by Zeus disguised as sunlight, and his Venus and Adonis (c. 1552-1554) depicting the goddess and her mortal lover.

Mythological contexts also played a role in launching the genre of the female nude, as Giorgione's Sleeping Venus (1508), which pioneered the form. Titian further developed the subject by emphasizing an eroticism played toward the male gaze as in his Venus of Urbino (1534). Their titles placed both works within a mythological context, though their pictorial treatments elided any visual references to the goddess. Other works by Titian were to include such references as seen in his Venus and Cupid (c. 1550). The mythologizing impulse, so popular among the Venetians, also influenced their development of contemporary scenes as dramatic spectacles, as seen in Veronese's Feast in the House of Levi (1573) painted on a monumental scale, measuring eighteen by forty-three feet.

Venetian Architecture

A coastal city noted for its system of canals, Venice had little solid ground upon which to build. As a result, many architectural projects involved redesigning buildings, often by creating new facades. The first architects of the Venetian Renaissance were the brothers Antonio and Tullio Lombardo, who rebuilt the Scuola di San Marco (c. 1490). Trained as sculptors, they carved the façade in relief to create an illusionistic perspective.

While Renaissance innovations via the work of Filippo Brunelleschi , Leon Battista Alberti, and Donato Bramante did influence Venetian architects, it was the Byzantine and Gothic tradition that continued to dominate architectural design. That changed in the 1500s, when the sculptor and artist Jacopo Sansovino moved to Venice after the 1527 Sack of Rome. Appointed chief architect of Venice in 1529, he was commissioned to design various public buildings in St. Mark's Square. His love of High Renaissance ideals led him to create a new style incorporating classical traditions alongside the Venetian love of lavish decoration. His masterpiece was the Biblioteca Marciana (1537-1587), the Library of Saint Mark's, praised by Andrea Palladio as the "best building since Antiquity."

The greatest and most influential of Venetian architects, Andrea Palladio, was known not only for his designs but his Il Quattro Libri dell' Architettura (The Four Books of Architecture) (1570), which included his architectural rules and concepts and was widely read throughout Europe. The Humanist scholar and architect Gian Giorgio Trissino was Palladio's lifelong mentor. Trissino, a friend of Leonardo da Vinci in Milan, was influenced by Leonardo's designs employing radial symmetry and his interest in the architectural principles of Vitruvius. As a result, Palladio employed Vitruvian classical elements and mathematical proportions but reinterpreted them toward simple designs that, using locally available and inexpensive construction materials, were easily reproducible. Though he designed the Venetian churches San Giorgio Maggiore (1565) and Il Redentore (1576), he was primarily known for his residential architecture. His country villas and city palazzos became the standard for aristocratic homes.

San Zeno Altarpiece (1457-60)

This altarpiece depicts six separate scenes, central amongst them the sacra conversazione, in which saints surround the Madonna and Child. The bottom three panels present, from left to right, the agony in the garden, the crucifixion, and the resurrection. The frame of the altarpiece mimics the facade of an ancient Greek temple, painted gold, with the illustrations framed by Corinthian-style pillars. The scene is thus positioned, as it were, within the space of the temple, with the illusion of the pillars receding behind the frame. The backgrounds of the panels are also decorated to suggest the interior of the temple. The dominant colors used are red and gold, with hints of green, forming a tonally harmonious scene orientated around the central figures of holy mother and child, who meet the viewer's gaze as the peripheral figures stare in various opposing directions.

The work offers a kind of stylistic synthesis typical of Mantegna's approach, utilizing a classical style of portraiture to portray Christian themes and characters, who carry themselves in the manner of Greco-Roman icons. This is clearest in the case of Saint John the Baptist (top right) who stands in a classical contrapposto pose like Polykleitos's Doryphoros, the spear-bearer. Mantegna repurposes these and other classical formal elements to give Christian narrative a new life and vigor, as in the three lower scenes, which present in linear order the events of the death and resurrection of Christ. A sense of narrative continuity is generated, for example, by the awakening in the bottom-right panel of the sleeping figures from the 'agony' scene. Such thematic motifs allowed (potentially illiterate viewers) to connect emotionally to the events of Christ's life via engagement with the altarpiece.

The spatial organization of the piece is also metaphorically significant, with events in the mortal world positioned below the palace of the deities in the top three panels. This technique is also common in classical art, with deities often placed above human actors in frescoes to signify the distinction between the mortal and immortal worlds. A similar formal approach - using panel divisions to separate out different orders of existence - had also become widespread during the fourteenth century, with Madonna and child often featured in the central panel and saints radiating outwards. Mantegna modernizes this technique, however, by unifying the imaginative space depicted across rows of panels, once again demonstrating his capacity to renew time-honored formal techniques and thematic motifs. He also contrasts Pagan antiquity with the Christian present by offsetting the vibrant colors of the Christian outfits against the muted colors of the temple behind. This contrast serves to acknowledge the influence of the classical framework on Renaissance culture and art while suggesting their repurposing for modern times.

Di sotto in su (1465-74)

One of Mantegna's most famous works, the ceiling panel of the Camera degli Sposi, or "bridal chamber" in the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua was commissioned by Ludovico III Gonzaga, who employed Mantegna for a number of years. The work creates the illusion of a circular window opening onto the sky above. The bridal chamber below is decorated to suggest a ceremonial pavilion, the walls painted with elaborate architectonic decorations. The oculus is painted to look like marble, and is surrounded by a garland. The illustrations give the impression from below of figures gazing down into the oculus, while winged cherubs gather in and around it, the two halves of the opening demarcated by a peacock and potted plant. The figures seem to be conversing with each other while looking down from the cloud-flecked sky. The type of optical illusion utilized in the ceiling panel is called di sotto in su, meaning "foreshortening", in this case generating the impression of bodies and forms glimpsed from directly below. The illusion of three-dimensional space is complemented by the hyper-realistic style of the decorations around the oculus, which suggest an internal architectural space different to the actual architectural space of the chamber.

Like Mantegna's earlier altarpiece, the work infuses elements of classical style with Renaissance Christian themes. The imaginary pavilion is decorated in high Greco-Roman style, with classical portraits on the ceiling, while the use of architectonic wall-decoration in and of itself harks back to the decoration of tombs during the classical era as 'rooms for the dead'. The inclusion of the cherub, meanwhile, pays homage to the Eros of the classical pantheon while also being an example of the putti (naked cherubs or children) common in Renaissance religious art (as was the peacock).

In spite of these grand allusions, the piece has a feel of playful lightheartedness, as the figures stare down into the oculus - as if breaking the fourth wall of the performance space - or interact with one another in curiosity. Looking closely, we can see that the potted plant is supported by a pole crossing the oculus, and the woman on the top left has her hand on the pole as if she is about to play a prank by dropping the plant into the courtyard below. Cherubs are also known for their playfulness and trickery, and the presence of so many gathered around probably means that some sort of antics are afoot.

In practical terms, the ceiling oculus of the Palazzo Ducale was probably intended to exalt the Gonzaga family by suggesting that their lives were of interest to the heavenly throng gathered above. In retrospect, it has turned out to be one of Mantegna's most enduringly influential works. The first noted example of the use of di sotto in su perspective painting, it marks a significant leap forward in the evolution of spatial illusionism. The technique was reiterated in numerous Baroque and Renaissance structures, and became a defining characteristic of the fresco art of Antonio da Correggio, Giovanni Battista Gaulli, Andrea Pozzo, and others.

  • 3rd century BCE - Romans in power. [1]
  • 601 CE - Forces of Lombard Agilulf take Mantua. [2]
  • 804 CE - Roman Catholic Diocese of Mantua established. [3]
  • 977 - Canossa in power. [1]
  • 1007 - Boniface III in power.
  • 1090 - Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor in power. [2]
  • 1113 - Forces of Matilda of Tuscany take Mantua. [2]
  • 1115 - Mantua becomes a "quasi-independent commune." [1]
  • 1150 - Mantua currency [it] begins circulating. [citation needed]
  • 1167 - Mantua joins the Lombard League. [4] >
  • 1236 - Forces of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor attempt to take Mantua. [2]
  • 1272 - Bonacolsi in power (until 1328). [1]
  • 1281 - Tower built.
  • 1328
      in power. [2] built. [2]
    • in operation. [9][10]
    • Rebuilding of the Basilica of Sant'Andrea begins. [4]
    • 1607 - Monteverdi's opera L'Orfeo premieres in Mantua. [12]
    • 1625 - Jesuit Pacifico Ginnasio Mantovano (university) established. [11]
    • 1630
      • City sacked by Austrian forces during the War of the Mantuan Succession. [2]
      • Plague. [6]
      • 2 February: Siege of Mantua ends French win. [1]
      • City becomes seat of the "Mincio department in Napoleon's puppetCisalpine Republic." [1]
      • 1905 - Walls of Mantua [it] demolished. [6]
      • 1908 - Mantua tram [it] begins operating. [21]
      • 1911
          (football club) formed.
      • Population: 32,657. [22]
        • [it] (bus) begins operating. [21] (stadium) opens.
      • 2005 - PalaBam [it] arena opens.
      • 2006 - Mincio Cycleway constructed between Peschiera del Garda and Mantua.
      • 2012 - May: Earthquake.
      • 2013 - Population: 47,223. [23]
      • 2015 - Mattia Palazzi becomes mayor.

      Timelines of other cities in the macroregion of Northwest Italy: (it)

      1. ^ abcdefghijDomenico 2002.
      2. ^ abcdefghijklmnBritannica 1910.
      3. ^"Chronology of Catholic Dioceses: Italy". Norway: Roman Catholic Diocese of Oslo . Retrieved 6 December 2016 .
      4. ^ abcdefghLamontagne 1995.
      5. ^
      6. Gerhard Dohrn-van Rossum [de] (1996). History of the Hour: Clocks and Modern Temporal Orders. University of Chicago Press. p. 392. ISBN978-0-226-15510-4 . CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
      7. ^ abcdef
      8. "Mantua". Oxford Art Online. Missing or empty |url= (help) Retrieved 7 December 2016
      9. ^ ab
      10. Michael Wyatt, ed. (2014). "Timeline". Cambridge Companion to the Italian Renaissance. Cambridge University Press. p. xxi+. ISBN978-1-139-99167-4 .
      11. ^ abc
      12. "Venice and Northern Italy, 1400–1600 A.D.: Key Events". Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art . Retrieved 7 December 2016 .
      13. ^
      14. Henri Bouchot (1890). "Topographical index of the principal towns where early printing presses were established". In H. Grevel (ed.). The book: its printers, illustrators, and binders, from Gutenberg to the present time. London: H. Grevel & Co.
      15. ^
      16. Robert Proctor (1898). "Books Printed From Types: Italy: Mantova". Index to the Early Printed Books in the British Museum. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner and Company.
      17. ^ ab
      18. Paul F. Grendler (2009). The University of Mantua, the Gonzaga, and the Jesuits, 1584–1630. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN978-0-8018-9783-2 .
      19. ^
      20. Radio 3. "Opera Timeline". BBC . Retrieved 7 December 2016 .
      21. ^
      22. "Italy". Western Europe. Regional Surveys of the World (5th ed.). Europa Publications. 2003. ISBN978-1-85743-152-0 .
      23. ^
      24. James E. McClellan (1985). "Official Scientific Societies: 1600-1793". Science Reorganized: Scientific Societies in the Eighteenth Century. Columbia University Press. p. 261+. ISBN978-0-231-05996-1 .
      25. ^
      26. Maylender, Michele (1930). Storia delle accademie d'Italia. Vol. 5. Bologna: L. Cappelli. pp. 469–477.
      27. ^
      28. "Storia della Biblioteca". Biblioteca Teresiana (in Italian). Comune di Manova . Retrieved 7 December 2016 .
      29. ^Restori 1919.
      30. ^
      31. "Archivio di Stato di Mantova". Guida generale degli Archivi di Stato italiani (in Italian). Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism . Retrieved 6 December 2016 .
      32. ^Castagnoli 2002.
      33. ^
      34. "Italy". Statesman's Year-Book. London: Macmillan and Co. 1899 – via HathiTrust.
      35. ^ ab
      36. "Da 60 anni trasportati dall'Apam", Gazzetta di Mantova (in Italian), 14 July 2013
      37. ^
      38. "Italy". Statesman's Year-Book. London: Macmillan and Co. 1913.
      39. ^
      40. "Resident Population". Demo-Geodemo. Istituto Nazionale di Statistica . Retrieved 7 December 2016 .

      This article incorporates information from the Italian Wikipedia.


      “The basic costume of men in this period consisted of a shirt, doublet, and hose, with some sort of overgown (robe worn over clothing).

      Men of all classes wore short braies or breeches, a loose undergarment, usually made of linen, which was held up by a belt. Hose or chausses made out of wool were used to cover the legs, and were generally brightly colored. Early hose sometimes had leather soles and were worn without shoes or boots. Hose were generally tied to the breech belt, or to the breeches themselves, or to a doublet.

      As doublets became shorter, hose reached to the waist rather than the hips, and were sewn together into a single garment with a pouch or flap to cover the front opening this evolved into the codpiece.

      The hose exposed by short tops were, especially in Italy late in the 15th century, often strikingly patterned, parti-coloured (different colours for each leg, or vertically divided), or embroidered. Hose were cut on the cross-grain or bias for stretch.”

      Fig. 1 - Cosmè Tura (Italian, 1433–1495). Portrait of a Young Man, 1470s. Tempera on wood 28.3 x 19.7 cm (11 1/8 x 7 3/4 in). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 14.40.649. Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913. Source: The Met

      Fig. 2 - Liberale da Verona (Italian, 1445–1527). The Chess Players, ca. 1475. Tempera on wood 34.9 x 41.3 cm (13 3/4 x 16 1/4 in). New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 43.98.8. Maitland F. Griggs Collection, Bequest of Maitland F. Griggs, 1943. Source: The Met

      Fig. 3 - Hans Memling (Netherlandish, 1465-1494). Portrait of a Young Man, ca. 1472–75. Oil on oak panel 40 x 29 cm (15 3/4 x 11 3/8 in). New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975.1.112. Robert Lehman Collection, 1975. Source: The Met

      According to all four canonical Gospels, immediately after the Last Supper, Jesus took a walk to pray. Each Gospel offers a slightly different account regarding narrative details. The gospels of Matthew and Mark identify this place of prayer as Gethsemane. Jesus was accompanied by three Apostles: Peter, John and James, whom he asked to stay awake and pray. He moved "a stone's throw away" from them, where he felt overwhelming sadness and anguish, and said "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as You, not I, would have it." Then, a little while later, he said, "If this cup cannot pass by, but I must drink it, Your will be done!" (Matthew 26:42 in Latin Vulgate: fiat voluntas tua ). He said this prayer thrice, checking on the three apostles between each prayer and finding them asleep. He commented: "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak". An angel came from heaven to strengthen him. During his agony as he prayed, "His sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling down upon the ground" (Luke 22:44).

      At the conclusion of the narrative, Jesus accepts that the hour has come for him to be betrayed. [2]

      In Roman Catholic tradition, the Agony in the Garden is the first Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary and the First Station of the Scriptural Way of The Cross (second station in the Philippine version). Catholic tradition includes specific prayers and devotions as acts of reparation for the sufferings of Jesus during His Agony and Passion. These Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ do not involve a petition for a living or dead beneficiary, but aim to "repair the sins" against Jesus. Some such prayers are provided in the Raccolta Catholic prayer book (approved by a Decree of 1854, and published by the Holy See in 1898) which also includes prayers as Acts of Reparation to the Virgin Mary. [3] [4] [5] [6]

      In his encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor on reparations, Pope Pius XI called Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ a duty for Catholics and referred to them as "some sort of compensation to be rendered for the injury" with respect to the sufferings of Jesus. [7]

      Catholic tradition holds that Jesus' sweating of blood was literal and not figurative. [8]

      In the Catholic tradition, Matthew 26:40 is the basis of the Holy Hour devotion for Eucharistic adoration. [9] In the Gospel of Matthew: "Then He said to them, 'My soul is very sorrowful even to death remain here, and watch with Me.'" (Matthew 26:38) Coming to the disciples, He found them sleeping and, in Matthew 26:40, asked Peter:

      "So, could you not watch with Me one hour?" [9]

      The tradition of the Holy Hour devotion dates back to 1673 when Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque stated that she had a vision of Jesus in which she was instructed to spend an hour every Thursday night to meditate on the suffering of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. [6] [10] [11]

      There are a number of different depictions in art of the Agony in the Garden, including:

      • Agony in the Garden – an early (1459-1465) painting by the Italian Renaissance master Giovanni Bellini
      • Agony in the Garden – a painting by romantic poet and artist William Blake, c. 1800, conserved at the Tate Britain in London
      • Agony in the Garden – a painting by the Italian artist Correggio, dating to 1524 and now in Apsley House in London
      • Agony in the Garden – a painting by the Italian artist Andrea Mantegna, dating from 1458–1460 and conserved at the National Gallery in London
      • Agony in the Garden – a painting by Andrea Mantegna, dating from 1457–1459 and conserved at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours
      • Agony in the Garden – a 1510s painting by Gerard David formerly attributed to Adriaen Isenbrandt, now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg
      • Christ on the Mount of Olives – a painting by Baroque painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, c. 1605
      • Christ on the Mount of Olives – a painting by Paul Gauguin, 1889
      • Christ on the Mount of Olives – an oratorio by classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven
      • "Gethsemane (I Only Want to Say)" – In the rock operaJesus Christ Superstar by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jesus sings this song in which He confronts God about His coming fate, ultimately accepting it by the end of the song. An orchestral reprise is heard after the crucifixion in the form of "John Nineteen: Forty-One".

      A medical interpretative hypothesis of hematidrosis has been advanced in the scientific literature, according to which the great mental anguish that Jesus suffered to the point that his sweat became blood is described only by Luke the Evangelist because he was a physician. [12]

      A timeline of contemporary European events, 1400 to 1550

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      Andrea Mantegna

      Mantegna was born near Padua and worked for local artist Squarcione. Believing his talents were being exploited, the ambitious young artist broke their agreement and in 1453 married into the rival Venetian firm of the Bellinis. Mantegna's early style is represented by the 'Agony in the Garden'.

      His first important commission came in 1448, painting frescoes for the Eremitani Chapel in Padua. He worked in Padua, Verona and Venice before moving to Mantua in 1460, where he spent the rest of his life. The great paintings by Mantegna in the Gallery date from his years in Mantua as court artist to the Gonzaga.

      His scholarly interest in the antique drew him into friendship with humanist scholars like Felice Feliciano. In 1464 they dressed up as Romans for a boating excursion on Lake Garda. In the 'Triumphs of Caesar' Mantegna indulged his interest in antique art, which can also be seen in the Gallery's 'Cult of Cybele'. He developed a painting technique which enabled him to imitate the look of classical sculpture. Mantegna produced engravings which helped spread his designs and fame beyond Italy. From possibly humble origins Mantegna rose to become a valued retainer of the Gonzaga. He was knighted by 1484, a rare honour for an artist.

      Andrea Mantegna

      Andrea Mantegna (Italian: [anˈdrɛːa manˈteɲɲa] c. 1431 – September 13, 1506) was an Italian painter, a student of Roman archeology, and son-in-law of Jacopo Bellini. Like other artists of the time, Mantegna experimented with perspective, e.g. by lowering the horizon in order to create a sense of greater monumentality. His flinty, metallic landscapes and somewhat stony figures give evidence of a fundamentally sculptural approach to painting. He also led a workshop that was the leading producer of prints in Venice before 1500.

      Mantegna was born in Isola di Carturo, Republic of Venice close to Padua (now Italy), second son of a carpenter, Biagio. At the age of eleven he became the apprentice of Francesco Squarcione, Paduan painter. Squarcione, whose original vocation was tailoring, appears to have had a remarkable enthusiasm for ancient art, and a faculty for acting. Like his famous compatriot Petrarca, Squarcione was something of a fanatic for ancient Rome: he traveled in Italy, and perhaps Greece, amassing antique statues, reliefs, vases, etc., forming a collection of such works, then making drawings from them himself, and throwing open his stores for others to study. All the while, he continued undertaking works on commission for which his pupils no less than himself were made available.

      As many as 137 painters and pictorial students passed through Squarcione's school, which had been established towards 1440 and which became famous all over Italy. Padua was attractive for artists coming not only from Veneto but also from Tuscany, such as Paolo Uccello, Filippo Lippi and Donatello. Mantegna's early career was shaped indeed by impressions of Florentine works. At the time, Mantegna was said to be a favorite pupil. Squarcione taught him Latin and instructed him to study fragments of Roman sculpture. The master also preferred forced perspective, the lingering results of which may account for some of Mantegna's later innovations. However, at the age of seventeen, Mantegna separated himself from Squarcione. He later claimed that Squarcione had profited from his work without paying the rights.

      His first work, now lost, was an altarpiece for the church of Santa Sofia in 1448. The same year Mantegna was called, together with Nicolò Pizolo, to work with a large group of painters entrusted with the decoration of the Ovetari Chapel in the transept of the church of the Eremitani. It is probable, however, that before this time some of the pupils of Squarcione, including Mantegna, had already begun the series of frescoes in the chapel of S. Cristoforo, in the church of Sant'Agostino degli Eremitani, today considered his masterpiece. After a series of coincidences, Mantegna finished most of the work alone, though Ansuino, who collaborated with Mantegna in the Ovetari Chapel, brought his style in the Forlì school of painting. The now censorious Squarcione carped about the earlier works of this series, illustrating the life of St James he said the figures were like men of stone, and had better have been colored stone-color at once.

      This series was almost entirely lost in the 1944 allied bombings of Padua. The most dramatic work of the fresco cycle was the work set in the worm's-eye view perspective, St. James Led to His Execution. (For an example of Mantegna's use of a lowered view point, see the image at right of Saints Peter and Paul though much less dramatic in its perspective than the St. James picture, the San Zeno altarpiece was done shortly after the St. James cycle was finished, and uses many of the same techniques, including the classicizing architectural structure.)

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      Watch the video: The Genius of Andrea Mantegna