Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Escaping to Mantua

Mantua overview

Sometime planning a holiday it is a hard work, especially if you are not sure where to go and for how long. Italy has so much to offer, so here a possible alternative....Mantua. This is a small city, located in the south east of Lombardy, one of the Italian regions. This centre is perfect for a week-end away from the confusion or for an overnight stop during your Italian trip. 

Mantua was ruled until 1707 by the Gonzaga family, who were some of the most important patrons of Renaissance art. In fact, during their regency they cultivated a court which included some of the most illustrious artists and intellectuals of the time, such as Andrea Mantegna, the court painter between 1460 and 1506. The main commission he received from Ludovico Gonzaga was the decoration of an historiated portrait gallery for the Ducal Palace or Palazzo Ducale. The so-called Camera Picta (1465–74) or Camera degli Sposi, shows the Marchese and his consort, Barbara of Brandenburg, together with their children, friends, courtiers and animals engaged in professional and leisurely pursuits, illustrating the present successes and alluding to the future ambitions of the Gonzaga dynasty.

Mantegna, Camera degli sposi

An interesting particular of this decoration is the painted vault, a trompe l'oeil, a perfect example of illusionism. Here a group of foreshortened putti happily play around a balustrade.

Another artist who worked for the Gonzaga family was Leon Battista Alberti, the great Renaissance theorist and architect from Florence, who designed the Basilica of Sant’Andrea, which was only constructed in a later date. 

Basilica of Sant'Andrea

Even Giulio Romano, who worked in Rome with Raphael, became the court architect and painter in Mantua from the 1520’s. His most significant and most famous work was the architecture and decoration of Palazzo Te, once considered the villa suburbana for the Gonzaga family, today only a short walk from the Ducal Palace.

Giulio Romano, Palazzo Te

The most amazing thing in the palace is the decoration of the rooms, of which the Camera dei Giganti or Chamber of the Giants is very famous. The story portrayed is the Fall of the Giants from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and, as is clear from some of the details, it is derived from a later Italian edition that alters the original text.
Giulio Romano, Fall of the Giants

Mantua has lots to offer...so go and immerse yourself in this beautiful place!

Do you want to know more? or do you have intention to learn some basic Italian before your departure?
You can contact me HERE

Alla prossima!

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