Andrea Mantegna (c. 1431 – September 13, 1506) was an Italian painter, a student of Roman archeology, and son in law of Jacopo Bellini. Like other artists of the time, Mantegna experimented with perspective, echos of classic painting styles in contemporary scenes. His flinty, metallic landscapes and somewhat stony figures give evidence of a fundamentally sculptural approach to painting. He also led a workshop that was heavily influences by his skill as a draftsman, and produced an important body of drawings.
Mantegna was born in Isola di Carturo, Republic of Venice close to Padua, second son of a carpenter named Biagio. At the age of eleven he became the pupil of Francesco Squarcione, Paduan painter. Squarcione, according to Vasari, had Mantegna copy pictures from ancient sculpture and plaster casts; later he copied paintings by Titian and Andrea del Verrocchio. As a young man, he traveled to Rome with Cardinal Francesco Gonzaga in order to see ancient art, and he remained there until Cardinal Gonzaga’s death in 1466. While there, Mantegna painted frescoes in Santa Maria Maggiore and in the church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. He also painted a cycle of nine paintings for the Duke of Mantua on the landmark occasion of the visit by Emperor Frederick III.
When Cardinal Gonzaga died in 1466, Mantegna returned briefly to Mantua, where he painted the Eremitani Chapel in San Benedetto, before leaving for Rome again in 1467. In Rome, Mantegna painted frescoes in the Church of Sant’Agostino, the Chapel of San Vincenzo Ferrer in Santa Maria in Aracoeli (finished in 1471), and side panels for the altarpiece of Cardinal Oliviero Carafa’s chapel in Santa Prassede. The frescoes, based on themes related to the life of Saint Vincent Ferrer, were commissioned by Cardinal Oliviero Carafa in 1467-68.
In 1481, Mantegna completed one of his most famous works, thecamera picta (“painted chamber”), a fresco cycle in the Camera degli Sposi (“wedding chamber”) of the Ducal Palace in Mantua. The theme of the painting is love: specifically, the love of the Duke and Duchess of Mantua for each other, as described in a poem by Cristoforo Landino. The fresco depicts the couple in conversation, surrounded by a view of the Ducal Palace and countryside. On the back wall of the room is a fictive window with a view of Mantua.
In 1484, Mantegna was commissioned to paint a ceiling fresco in the Church of Sant’Andrea in Mantua. The theme of the painting is the Triumph of Faith, and it includes a self-portrait of the artist.
Mantegna also painted a number of important portraits, including those of Marquis Ludovico Gonzaga (1466), Cardinal Francesco Gonzaga (1471), and Cardinal Gabriele Condulmer (1474).
Mantegna died in Mantua on September 13, 1506.