Frontispiece with Bust
Andrea Andreani, Italian, 1540/46 - 1623. After Andrea Mantegna, Italian (active Padua, Mantua, and Verona), 1431 - 1506.
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In the late fifteenth century, Andrea Mantegna painted a monumental frieze (nine canvases, each measuring nine by nine feet) for the noble Gonzaga family of Mantua, Italy. Mantegna's work represented one of the most ambitious attempts ever to reconstruct the appearance of the ancient Roman processions, known as triumphs, that celebrated the victory of a general. To recreate the pomp and splendor of a triumph-with its musicians, standard-bearers, animals, prisoners of war, and trophies (precious booty and captured arms)-Mantegna drew on both ancient literary descriptions and ancient visual sources, such as coins, medals, and the relief sculpture on Roman triumphal arches.
Not everyone could travel to Mantua to see Mantegna's vast frieze, but the fame of the work was spread through the engravings produced by artists in Mantegna's circle. This splendid woodcut, which were created much later, reflects a revival of interest in the work a century after it was painted.