Andrea Mantegna

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Andrea Mantegna was a fifteenth century preeminent Italian painter. He also had interest in Roman archeology. He was related to one of the iconic painters of his time, Jacopo Bellini. He was Mantegna’s father-in-law and the pioneer of Renaissance style. His work is known for applying perspicere, Italian for perspective. It was an approximate representation of the art at flat surface. His work also displayed the sculptural approach to painting as his work represented stony figures.

Born in 1431, Andrea Mantegna was the native of Isola di Carturo (now Italy). He took apprenticeship with a painter named Francesco Squarcione at the age of eleven. Impressions of Florentine works inspired his early career as a painter. His mentor having deep interest in ancient Rome and their heritage taught Mantegna Latin and about Roman sculpture. Although Squarcione was a qualified and dedicated mentor, he was accused of profiting off of his pupils’ work. Hence, Mantegna decided to withdraw himself from his apprenticeship at the age of seventeen.

In 1448, he created an altarpiece for the church of Santa Sofia, which went missing over the centuries. The same year he was commissioned along with other notable painters like Nicolò Pizolo to decorate Eremitani church’s the Ovetari Chapel. Mantegna’s early works include a bunch of frescoes. The church of Sant’Antonio in Padua displayed the two saints over the entrance porch. In 1452, for the church of S. Giustina he produced an altarpiece of San Luca and St. Luke.

However unpleasant his experience was with previous mentor, Mantegna didn’t quit learning from the best of the era. He came to learn from Jacopo Bellini, who was father to two of the iconic painters of that time, Gentile Bellini and Giovanni Bellini. In an interesting turn of events Mantegna married Bellini’s daughter Nicolosia. Mantegna gave preference to classic work over nature as he considered that it was more eclectic. That view of art entailed him exercising precision in outline which culminated in ordinary wholeness of the figure instead of enhancing the expressive details.

In the years to come, Mantegna would stick to that style of painting he adopted in Padua. Though his manner of colouring improved as it became more pronounced and well-oriented. One thing he ignored while he was balancing the colours was the tone of those colours which would affect the artwork. Mantegna desired to attain optical illusion in his work. It was not always mathematically calculated, yet it succeeded to lend a profound effect to the work.

Andrea Mantegna left Padua early in his career and the cause was believed to be Squarcione’s hostility. He roamed around several places including Verona, Mantua and Rome. An altarpiece showcasing Madonna and angels was painted by him for San Zeno Maggiore church. It was considered first art to inspire other Veronese as a remarkable example of Renaissance art in Verona. 1460 was marked as the year when Mantegna was appointed court artist by the Marquis Ludovico III Gonzaga of Mantua. There he painted his masterpieces, Mantua: a series of full compositions in fresco and a few portraits of the Gonzaga family for the court of Mantua. The years that followed after his completion of Mantua court decoration were not quite pleasant as the loss of his wife, son and successor left a gaping hole in his life.

Andrea Mantegna Paintings

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