(b ?Isola di Carturo, Piazzolo, nr. Padua, c.1431; d Mantua, 13 Sept. 1506). Italian painter and printmaker, the leading artist in northern Italy throughout most of his career. He was the pupil and adopted son of Squarcione in Padua, growing up in a humanist atmosphere that was to colour his whole approach to art. Squarcione exploited his pupils for his own ends and in 1448, when he was only about 17, Mantegna gave an early indication of his formidable strength of character by taking him to court and forcing him to recognize his independence. He was remarkably precocious, and the distinctive style he created at the beginning of his career changed little in essentials over the next half-century (although it gradually mellowed somewhat). It was a style characterized by sharp clarity of drawing, colouring, and lighting, a passion for archaeology that fed on the abundance of classical remains in northern Italy, and a mastery of perspective and foreshortening unequalled in the 15th century.

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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