Italy's Renaissance 08: Mantua cover

Italy's Renaissance 08: Mantua

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The City of Mantua, located in the northern Italian plain, was traditionally a center of cloth manufacture. On August 16, 1328, the Bonacolsi family was overthrown in a revolt backed by the House of Gonzaga. The Gonzagas built new city walls with five gates and renovated the architecture of the city in the 14th century, but the political situation in the city did not settle until the third ruling Gonzaga, Ludovico Gonzaga, eliminated his relatives, seizing power for himself.
During the Renaissance, the Gonzaga family softened their despotic rule and raised the level of culture and refinement in Mantua. Because of the city's wealth and the Gonzaga support of arts and letters, the Mantuan court became one of the most brilliant in Italy.
Two Quiz questions at the end!





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Italy's Renaissance 08: Mantua

Mantua

Learning Objective

Explore Mantua's relationship to Mannerism

Terms

Gonzaga A royal family that ruled Mantua in Northern Italy from 1328 to 1708.

Palazzo del Te A palace in Mantua, Italy, designed by Giulio Romano, and a fine example of the Mannerist style of architecture.

Mannerism A style of art developed at the end of the High Renaissance, characterized by the deliberate distortion and exaggeration of perspective, especially the elongation of figures.

Andrea Mantegna Fresco

Andrea Mantegna Fresco

Ludovico Gonzaga receiving the news of his son Francesco being elected cardinal

Fresco by Andrea Mantegna, 1474

This fresco of the powerful Gonzaga head of family resides in the Stanza degli Sposi of Palazzo Ducale.

Key Points

1) The wealth of the city made possible a brilliant court culture under the Gonzaga family, who offered extensive patronageof the arts.

2) Casa Giocaso was a famous humanist school established in Mantua by Vittorino da Feltre and sponsored by Marquis Gianfrancesco Gonzaga.

3) The Palazzo del Te was commissioned by Federico II Gonzaga and built by Guilio Romano between 1524 and 1534. It is a strong example of Renaissance Mannerist architecture.

4) Mannerism emerged from the later years of the Italian High Renaissance, beginning around 1520. It represented a departure from the harmonious ideals and restrained naturalism associated with artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and early Michelangelo.

The City of Mantua

The City of Mantua, located in the northern Italian plain, was traditionally a center of cloth manufacture. On August 16, 1328, the Bonacolsi family was overthrown

in a revolt backed by the House of Gonzaga. Luigi Gonzaga, who had been podestà of the city in 1318, was elected "People's Captain.” The Gonzagas built new city walls with five gates and renovated the architecture of the city in the 14th century, but the political situation in the city did not settle until the third ruling Gonzaga, Ludovico Gonzaga, eliminated his relatives, seizing power for himself .

Gonzaga Patronage and Casa Giocosa

During the Renaissance, the Gonzaga family softened their despotic rule and raised the level of culture and refinement in Mantua.

Because of the city's wealth and the Gonzaga support of arts and letters, the Mantuan court became one of the most brilliant in Italy.

Marquis Gianfrancesco Gonzaga brought Vittorino da Feltre to Mantua in 1423 to open his famous humanist school, the Casa Giocosa. Vittorino da Feltre was one of the first modern educators to develop during the Renaissance.

Camera Degli Sposi

Camera Degli Sposi

Frescoes in the Camera degli Sposi; scene: vault fresco detail, Palazzo Ducale, Mantua

Andrea Mantegna (1431–1506)

Public Domain Image

Patrons of Arts and Culture

The Gonzagas protected the arts and culture, and were hosts to several important artists, including Leone Battista Alberti, Andrea Mantegna, Giulio Romano, Donatello,

Peter Paul Rubens, Pisanello, Domenico Fetti, Luca Fancelli, and Nicolò Sebregondi. Though many of the masterworks made during the period have been dispersed, the cultural significance of Mantua is nonetheless outstanding. Many of Mantua's patrician and ecclesiastical buildings are uniquely important examples of Italian architecture.

Under Francesco II, the famous Renaissance painter Andrea Mantegna worked in Mantua as the court painter, producing some of his most outstanding works, including the Camera degli Sposi ("bridal chamber").

Mannerism and Giulio Romano's Work

The first Duke of Mantua was Federico II Gonzaga, who acquired the title from Emperor Charles V in 1530. Federico commissioned Giulio Romano to build the famous Palazzo del Te,

on the periphery of the city, and profoundly improved the city . Romano was a pupil of Raphael, and his stylistic deviations from High Renaissance classicism helped define the 16th-century style known as Mannerism.

Stylistically, Mannerism encompasses a variety of approaches influenced by and reacting to the harmonious ideals and restrained naturalism associated with artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and early Michelangelo. Mannerism is notable for its intellectual sophistication as well as its artificial (as opposed to naturalistic) qualities.

Palazzo del Te

Palazzo del Te

The Palazzo del Te was a mannerist palace constructed from 1524-1534 by Giulio Romano and commissioned by the Duke of Mantua.

Image Courtesy Marcok

(CC BY-SA 1.0)

Every Surface

Once the shell of the Palazzo del Te was completed, for ten years a team of plasterers, carvers, and fresco painters labored, until barely a surface in any of the loggias or salons remained undecorated.

Under Giulio Romano's direction, local decorative painters such as Benedetto Pagni and Rinaldo Mantovano worked extensively on the palace frescoes.

These frescoes remain today, and are the most remarkable feature of the Palazzo. The subjects range from the Olympian banquets in the Sala di Psiche and stylized horses in the Sala dei Cavalli to the most unusual of all—giants and grotesques wreaking havoc, fury, and ruin around the walls of the Sala dei Giganti .

Close up view of The Fall of the Giants

Close up view of The Fall of the Giants

Giulio Romano, The Fall of the Giants in the "sala dei Giganti"

Public Domain Image

The Fall Of The Giants

The Fall Of The Giants

Mannerism's most famous fresco: Giulio Romano's illusionism invents a dome overhead and dissolves the room's architecture in the Fall of the Giants.

This is one of the most important frescoes of the Palazzo del Te.

Public Domain Image

Question 1

Which architectural work in Mantua helped define the 16th-century style known as Mannerism?

A Palazzo del Te

A Gonzaga Gate

A Casa Giocosa

A Sala dei Giganti

Question 2

Mantegna's "Camera degli Sposi" is located in which city?

A Mantua

A Florence

C Padua

D Sienna

Answers

Question 1: A Palazzo del Te

Question 2: A Mantua

Originally posted to Boundless

Pictures, Titles and Text Added

(CC BY-SA 4.0)