Andrea Mantegna and Adoption

Andrea Mantegna's The Agony in the Garden, 1455


Mantegna was adopted as a child about 10 years old by the painter Francesco Squarcione.

He was the most famous painter of his day in Padua and was one of the first Italians to use copper engraving. His first major fresco was begun when he was just 17 and took 10 years to complete: the Martyrdom of St. James and St. Christopher in the Church of the Eremitani in Padua.

He originally set up his own studio because he complained that Squarcione was financially exploiting his talent for his own profit. Later he moved to Mantua and worked for the wealthy Gonzaga family. He married Nicolosia, the sister of Giovanni and Gentile Bellini, also major artists. He specialized in perspective effects, used to give more space to rooms, to apparently raise the height of ceilings, etc.


Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, edited by F.L. Cross. (London: Oxford University Press, 1957) Harden, Mark, and Gerten-Jackson. "WebMuseum, Paris: Mantegna, Andrea." Available at: