Andrea Mantegna

Andrea Mantegna (c. 1431–September 13, 1506) was an Italian Renaissance artist from Florence, whose work included paintings, engravings, and frescoes.


Mategna was born in Isola di Caturo. His father was a woodcutter. Around 1450, Mategna emerged as an independent master. He had started as the apprentice of Francesco Squarcione in Padua at the age of ten. Squarcione was something of a fanatic for ancient Rome, and taught Mantegna the Latin language and instructed him to study fragments of Roman sculpture. He also preferred forced perspective. Elements of both influences can be seen in Mantegna's work.

Squarcione legally adopted Mantegna, and it was the court case that filed by Mantegna at the age of 17 to separate himself from Squarcione that marked the begining of Mantegna's career. Mantegna's early career was shaped by impressions of Florentine works and an assumed contact with Donatello is evident in his works. He is considered (along with Masaccio) one of the two most important painters of the early Renaissance. Mantegna was able to carry out his own commissions by age 17. Over the following decade, he reached artistic maturity and over the following fifty years he broadened his artistic range, without abandoning his developed style. In 1453, Mantegna married Jacopo Bellini's daughter. In 1460, Mantegna was appointed court artist to the Gonzaga family, rulers of Mantua. (Janson 426)


Agony in the Garden, painted around 1460. It depicts Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.His work is characterized by classical elements, such as an attempt to mimic a Roman bas-relief in paint. Mantegna's work also shows strong Donatello influences, as does the work of Mantegna's brother-in-law Giovanni Bellini and Albrecht Dürer.

Of Mantegna's early career, the Church of Eremitani's frescoes were his greatest achievement, painted with Ansuino da Forlì; these works were destroyed in a 1944 bombing. Ansuino brings the style of Mantegna in the "Forlì school of painting" till Melozzo da Forlì. 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. The sketch of this fresco survived and is the earliest known preliminary sketch which still exists to compare to the corresponding fresco. Despite the authentic look of the monument, it is not a copy of any known Roman structure. This connection to antiquity links Mategna with the humanists of the University of Padua who shared his ancient devotion. In Florence, this attitude could not have been conveyed to him by any local sculptors or painters. Mantegna also adopts the wet drapery patterns of the Romans—who derived the form from the Greek invention—for the clothing of his figures, although the tense figures and interactions are derived from Donatello. The drawing shows proof that nude figures were used in the conception of works during the Early Renaissance. In the preliminary sketch, the perspective is less developed and closer to a more average viewpoint however. This worm's eye perspective, creating an effectively large and prominent setting, is also seen in his work The Holy Trinity with the Virgin, St. John, and Two Donors. (Janson 426)

His work includes frescoes in the Ovetari Chapel in Padua (1448-59), the San Zeno Altarpiece (1456-59) Judith with the Head of Holofernes, The Agony in the Garden (c.1455), and the frescoed ceiling of the Camera degli Sposi at the Gonzaga family palace in Mantua.