Caesar's Triumphs, Mantegna

Caesar's Triumphs, Mantegna
Caesar's Triumphs, Mantegna

Throughout the historical stage of the Modern Age we can appreciate two key factors that defined the history of Italy and that are reflected in the work that we analyze here; On the one hand, the importance that the ancient times had at this stage, constantly turning their eyes towards the Greek and Roman past to be inspired by the artistic motifs and cultures of previous times, giving rise to one of the most flourishing artistic stages of art and that more works has left us, the Renaissance. On the other hand and no less important, it is worth noting the power that some families held in Italy, many cities were faced with the power of important leaders whose surname would be perpetuated through time see the well-known Medici family in Florence or as in the case that here concerns us the Gonzaga in Mantua. In this context, it does not seem strange to note that these great families wanted to perpetuate their power and high social position with works that followed the same style as in past times.


Andrea Mantegna (1431 – 1501) was born in a small village in the Padua region. When he was only ten years old, he began to work in the workshop of Francesco Squarcione who, appreciating the boy's talent, adopted him and invited him to study works of antiquity. At the age of seventeen, Mantegna became independent from the man who had been his teacher and began his solo career. he reapednumerous successes and was one of the most renowned artists of his time, aware of his fame and value the patriarch of the Gonzaga family, the Duke of Mantua Francisco II de Gonzaga commissioned a series of ten large canvases - each one of the works measures about two hundred and sixty-five centimeters wide and almost two hundred and eighty high- in which the Victories of Caesar would be represented.

The canvases were to adorn the walls of the Gonzaga ducal palace and the artist worked on their execution for a long period of time, from 1485 to 1505, upon his death the The series was not yet completed since a last canvas dedicated to the Senators of Rome was missing, which was made by a different artist. Unfortunately, the canvas is now lost, although we know it thanks to the different versions and engravings that were made of it.

In the 17th century, specifically in the year 1629, the works of Las Victorias del Cesar were acquired by the monarch Charles I of England who paid no less than 25,000 for them pounds of the time, which meant a real fortune. The works were taken a year later to England and hung in the Lower Orangerie. With the fall of the king the collection of works that he owned was dispersed although The Victories of Caesar remained in England thanks to Oliver Cromwell and today the series is in Hampton Court

However, we must point out that its state of preservation is not very good, perhaps because the artist used a strange mixture oftempera, glue and egg.

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