Andrea Mantegna: Discovery of “Traces” of the Famous Renaissance Artist’s Private Archive



Four previously unknown parchments referring to the painter Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506) and his family have been found in the State Archive of Milan. The discovery was made by Lionello Puppi, Professor of the History of Modern Art and Art History Research at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice.

 It is highly likely that these are “traces” of the lost private archive of the Renaissance artist whose major work was the cycle of frescoes in the Camera degli Sposi [Nuptial Chamber] in the Castello di San Giorgio [St. George Castle] in Mantua. 

The documents that have emerged from the depths of the State Archive of Milan are of various kinds, drawn up on parchment in a solemn official form: three are by notaries of Mantua (the corresponding drafts and records have been traced in the basement of the State Archive of Mantua) and one by a notary of Verona (of which there is no longer any trace in the State Archive of Verona).

Mantegna’s archive was divided up after his death between his sons Francesco and Ludovico.

The four parchments reveal glimpses of life in the Renaissance and interesting historical references:

on 5 October 1501, Mantegna exchanged his residence in the Unicorno neighbourhood for the Market House in Mantua where, in fact, he never went to live and, by notarial deed, leased out for nine years three plots of land, one of which containing a house, for the consideration of thirty gold ducats per annum;

  • on 10 January 1502 Francesco Gonzaga, by way of a deed of exchange, obtained Mantegna’s house in the Unicorno district in exchange for the Market House of the Hermit Friars of Saint Agnese;
  • on 7 November 1502 the artist assigned a dowry of no less than 600 ducats for the marriage of his son Ludovico to Libera Montagna;
  • on 15 December 1517 Mantegna’s heirs (Francesco and Andrea Junior, the painter’s grandson and son of Ludovico who in the meantime had died) transferred and assigned to Domenico de Matteis, chaplain of the Church of St. Andrew, full rights to three plots of land leased from Pietro, Gonzaga bowman, for the annual rental of five ducats.



Andrea Mantegna – San Giorgio Castle, Mantua

Detail of the Nuptial Chamber


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