Triptych with the Adoration of the Magi, Circumcision and Ascension, Mantegna

"Triptych with the Adoration of the Magi, Circumcision and Ascension, Mantegna

Description of the picture:

Triptych with the Adoration of the Magi, Circumcision and Ascension – Andrea Mantegna. 1460-1464. Wood, tempera. 86×161.5
Andrea Mantegna is a painter whose paintings already several decades before the start of the High Renaissance felt the approaching steps of this massive art.

The triptych was commissioned by Margrave Ludovico Gonzaga for the chapel at his ancestral palace in Mantua (for this family, the painter will work for the rest of his life). The small altar-type letter, the wealth of wonderful details characteristic of the art of the Early Renaissance, is combined here with the power and monumentality that were inherent in the next step of Italian painting. As a result, the small colorful altar produces the same memory as the murals of Mantegna in the palace of Gonzaga. And at the same time, the triptych is eager to consider, as if a jewel from a casket.

In the central part, the painter presented a scene of the worship of the Magi: in the midst of his so beloved rocky landscape, a long procession of people in chic vestments moves. They go to bow to the Baby sitting on Mary’s lap. Angels are curling around. Mantegna’s dry and colorful writing forces the image to practically glow, moreover, thanks to the special “air” in the paintings – completely transparent, sparse, which can only be high in the mountains. Therefore, everything can be seen in the world made by the artist: the path in the distance, the light castle to which it leads, the camel’s hair, hard grass, and thin golden threads that pierce the clothes. And at the same time, the scene can be imagined deployed in the entire wall of the chapel. Mantegna knew this and, in order to enhance the effect of the monumentality of the depicted, painted it on a concave surface.

It looks like a triptych in the museum
In the scene “Circumcision” (right) the painter painstakingly wrote out the wall ornament, compositions in the lunettes – “The Sacrifice of Isaac” and “Moses Handing the Tablets of the Testament to the People,” a basket with doves in Joseph’s hand, a tray with cut-out accessories that the boy holds out to the high priest. The image of little John the Baptist is touching, which sucks a finger, holding a bitten bagel in the other hand. All this detailed scene would be suitable for a large mural.

And exclusively in the third composition – “Ascension” (left) – there is practically no painstakingly depicted details, it is more ascetic and stronger, the rocky landscape is again visible in it, and even the cluster on which Christ stands seems to be carved from marble. But, as before, the feelings of the characters are subtly conveyed: the amazement and hope of Mary and the apostles, light sadness and the promise of meeting in heaven in the gaze of the Savior."

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