Andrea Mantegna

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Presentation of Christ in the temple , Gemäldegalerie Berlin
Lamentation of Christ , Pinacoteca di Brera , Milan
Judith and Holofernes

Andrea Mantegna (* 1431 on Isola Mantegna, formerly Isola di Carturo , near Piazzola sul Brenta , Province of Padua , † September 13, 1506 in Mantua ) was an Italian painter and engraver . His painting is influenced by the examination of works of sculpture , in particular by the Tuscan sculptor Donatello .


In addition to his brother-in-law Giovanni Bellini , he was the most important painter of the Northern Italian early Renaissance as a student of Francesco Squarcione . He was the son of a carpenter, came from a simple, rural background, but was interested in ancient sculptures from an early age. He had to work as a cattle herder in his early youth, but at the age of ten he was orphaned because of his drawing talent in the painting school of Francesco Squarcione in Padua , where he learned for seven years, among other things, how to draw ancient statues. His first work was a large altarpiece in the church of St. Sophia in Padua . After a rift caused by jealousy and hatred, Mantegna separated from his teacher in 1447.

In 1449 he was recorded at the court of Ferrara , where he got to know the works of Rogier van der Weyden and Piero della Francesca . In 1452 he returned to Padua to finish his work on the lunette in the Basilica of Saint Anthony in Padua . Then he went into the service of Marchese Luigi III. Gonzaga to Mantua, where he opened his own painting school. Here he painted his Great Triumph of Julius Caesar in nine boxes. These came into the possession of King Charles I of England in 1629. Since then they have been at Hampton Court Palace . From 1506 they were housed in the San Sebastiano Palace in Mantua.

More important for his later career was the collaboration with Niccolò Pizzolo (around 1420-1453), an assistant to Donatello on the frescoes of the Eremitani church in Padua (1448-1457). In 1453 Mantegna married Nicolosia Bellini, the sister of Giovanni Bellini . 1456 Mantegna was by Margrave Luigi III. Gonzaga was appointed court painter to Mantua, in whose service he remained, regardless of his activities in Florence , Pisa and Rome in 1488/89. Mantegna's work played a major role in the rather insignificant city of Mantua becoming a center of the visual arts. Mantegna was called to Rome by Pope Innocent VIII to paint in the Belvedere . In Rome "a lot of excellent pictures were taken, but these are extremely rare today".

Mantegna had three sons who also became painters, among other things they designed the chapel in which her father was buried.

Correggio and Raibolini are the most famous among Mantegna's students .

Characteristics of artistic creation

Mantegna is considered to be the real finisher of the ideal of art established by the Florentine School : the figures are monumental, strict, full of seriousness and dignity; the objects and the boundaries of the space are shown in sharp drawings and with consciously applied perspective means (often exaggerated). The colors are often harshly juxtaposed, the physical in its plastic is strongly worked out, with the anatomy of the naked body being explained in detail. The connection to antiquity is particularly evident in the statuesque serenity of the figures, and depictions of ancient parts of the picture or architecture can also be found in his works.

In addition to the frescoes in the Eremitani Church in Padua , with depictions of the life of St. James and the Assumption of Mary, accompanied by putti , one of his main works is the high altar of San Zeno in Verona (1456-1459), where for the first time in northern Italy Art of the image type of the Sacra Conversazione was depicted. His main work from his time in Mantua is the painting of the Camera degli Sposi in the ducal palace of Mantua (Castello di San Giorgio, 1465–1474): This is the first illusionistic room decoration with a ceiling painting that simulates a view into a free space. Mantegna also created the first group portrait here.

The copperplate engravings by Mantegna were also excellent: with “excellent drawings” they achieved good sales.

The representation of Christ in the temple , on which the painter presumably represented himself together with his wife Nicolosia, is considered to be "the earliest surviving representation of a painter couple".

Works (selection)

San Zeno Altar in the Church of San Zeno Maggiore , Verona
Holy Family


  • Andreas Henning (Ed.): Andrea Mantegna. The holy family. Sandstein Verlag, Dresden 2006, ISBN 978-3-937602-72-1 .
  • Thomas Arlt: Andrea Mantegna - "Triumph Caesar". A masterpiece of the Renaissance in a new light. Vienna 2005, ISBN 3-205-77298-9 .
  • Ortrun Rehm: Exquisite pictures . Freiburg im Breisgau, 2005, ISBN 3-7930-9384-0 .
  • Alberta de Nicolò Salmazo: Andrea Mantegna. DuMont Literature and Art Verlag, Cologne 2004, ISBN 3-8321-7230-0 .
  • Jan Lauts : The Madonna della Vittoria. Andrea Mantegna. Reclams Universal Library No. 57, Stuttgart 1960.
  • R. Cipriani: Andrea Mantegna. 1956.
  • Tietze-Conrat: Andrea Mantegna . In: Hans Vollmer (Hrsg.): General lexicon of fine artists from antiquity to the present . Founded by Ulrich Thieme and Felix Becker . tape 24 : Mandere – Möhl . EA Seemann, Leipzig 1930, p. 38-39 .
  • Wilhelm Boeck : Heimbücher der Kunst: Andrea Mantegna. The master of the Northern Italian early Renaissance. August Hopfer, Burg 1942, DNB 578919257 .
  • General German real encyclopedia for the educated classes. Conversations Lexicon. 10th edition 1853, FA Brockhaus, Leipzig.
  • Giorgio Vasari : The Life of Bellini and Mantegna. edited by Alessandro Nova together with Matteo Burioni, Katja Burzer, Sabine Feser and Hana Gründler, edited by Rebecca Müller, German by Victoria Lorini, Klaus Wagenbach, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-8031-5050-9 .
  • Mantegna + Bellini: Masters of the Renaissance . Catalog for the exhibitions in the National Gallery of Art, London, 2018 and Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, 2019. Edited by Caroline Campbell a. a. Hirmer, Munich 2018.

Web links

Commons : Andrea Mantegna  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Enciclopedie on line: Mantegna (, Italian) accessed on March 26, 2013.
  2. W. Luebke, M. Semran: The art of the Renaissance in Italy and in the north. 1st edition, reprint of the original, Salzwasser Verlag, Paderborn 1911.
  3. ^ Norbert Schneider: History painting. From the late Middle Ages to the 19th century. Cologne u. a. 2010. p. 93.
  4. ^ Norbert Schneider: History painting. From the late Middle Ages to the 19th century. Cologne u. a. 2010. p. 93.
  5. ^ Norbert Schneider: History painting. From the late Middle Ages to the 19th century. Cologne u. a. 2010. p. 93.
  6. S. Partsch: Look me in the eye, Dürer! The art of the old masters. Munich 2018. p. 113.
  7. Werner Schmalenbach: About the love of art and the truth of images , Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern-Ruit 2004, ISBN 3-7757-1463-4 .
  8. Harald Marx, Gregor JM Weber: Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister Dresden , Dt. Kunstverlag, Munich 1994, ISBN 3-422-06103-7 .
  9. A striking resemblance to Mantegna's depiction of the dead Christ was found in photos of the dead Che Guevara , which seems to fit in with the staging of the revolutionary as a “saint”. See Che Guevara: modern saint and sinner . In: The Economist , October 11, 2007.