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Andrea Mantegna

Mantegna, Andrea (ändrĕˈä mäntĕˈnyä) [key], 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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