Andrea Mantegna | Leading the Way with
Italian Renaissance painter and engraver Andrea Mantegna
(1431?-1506) is best known for painting heroic figures depicted
in sharp perspective
through the use of dramatic foreshortening.
Andrea Mantegna often placed the subject of his work high up in
the picture plane to give the illusion that the viewer is
looking up from down below.
1471-74, fresco, diameter 270 cm
Camera degli Sposi, Palazzo Ducale,
here to see our fine art
Andrea Mantegna had a keen interest in the culture of
ancient Rome, and he was acquainted with many scholars who
collected and studied Roman antiquities. Andrea Mantegna
married Nicolosia Bellini in 1453, and his work influenced that
of her brothers Giovanni and Gentile
Bellini, who also became famous masters of Italian
Andrea Mantegna's illusionistic style kept him in constant
In 1459 Andrea Mantegna moved to Mantua to work for the
ducal court of Ludovico Gonzaga where he remained until death.
Andrea Mantegna painted a remarkable fresco cycle in a small
room of the ducal palace called the Camera degli Sposi
(wedding chamber) where he created an illusionistic open-air
pavilion on the walls and ceiling.
On the ceiling, Andrea Mantegna painted a dome with an
oculus depicting an open sky, complete with figures of people
and winged cherubs looking down on the viewer through the
illusionistic oculus opening. Such a technique is called
l'oeil or illusionism
which means "to fool the eye".
Through his illusionistic
style, Andrea Mantegna paved the way for later artists of the
Italian Renaissance and Baroque eras. Andrea Mantegna's
influence can be seen also in the works of Correggio
and artists working in the mannerist style. Through study of
his works, German artists like Albrecht
Durer became aware of the ground-breaking artistic advances
of the Italian Renaissance.
Brenda Harness, Art Historian