the early renaissance artist andrea mantegna experimented with what in his dead christ?
Forty years before Mantegna completed Lamentation over the Dead Christ, Flemish masters like Jan van Eyck (1390-1441) and Roger Van der Weyden (1400-1464) were creating powerful examples of religious oil painting, in the form of altarpiece art and other works. Mantegna, however, like other Early Renaissance artists in Italy, preferred the medium of tempera painting, or fresco, although he did use oils from time to time. Here is a short selection of some of his best works in tempera.
Within this grid however, Mantegna creates an illusion of movement, of life. The weeping Mary is dabbing her eye with a handkerchief; the damp, bloody shroud swirls across the lower half of the picture. Even Christ’s hair has a wild look. This contrasting appearance of motion helps to create a tension which attracts our attention, as do the elements which are visible only at second glance, like the face of Saint John (left edge), or the ointment container (top right).
The Lamentation over the Dead Christ is a c. 1480 painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna. While the dating of the piece is debated, is generally believed to have been completed between 1457 and 1501. It portrays the body Christ supine on a marble slab. He is watched over by the Virgin Mary and St. John, who are weeping for his death.
Mantegna Exhibition – Musée du Louvre, Paris | www.mini-site.louvre.fr | For the first time in France, the Musée du Louvre presented an important retrospective exhibition of the work of Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506), the main representative of Renaissance ideas in northern Italy. His career took place, during the second half of the 15th century, in Padua and Mantua.The exhibition aims at showing, through his paintings, but also through drawings, engravings, manuscripts and sculptures, the career of this exceptional figure, the different influences which were important for him and, in turn, the powerful influence he had over several generations of artists.
In what was now his city he went on with the nine tempera pictures of the Triumphs of Caesar, which he had probably begun before his leaving for Rome, and which he finished around 1492. These superbly invented and designed compositions are gorgeous with the splendor of their subject matter, and with the classical learning and enthusiasm of one of the masters of the age. Considered Mantegna’s finest work, they were sold in 1628 along with the bulk of the Mantuan art treasures to King Charles I of England. 
Neither Mantegna or his workshop are now believed to have produced the so-called Mantegna Tarocchi cards.
Bacchanal with a wine vat Engraving by Mantegna, c1475, 278 x 422 mm
In 1488 Mantegna was called by Pope Innocent VIII to paint frescos in a chapel Belvedere in the Vatican. This series of frescos, including a noted Baptism of Christ, was destroyed by Pius VI in 1780. The pope treated Mantegna with less liberality than he had been used to at the Mantuan court; but all things considered their connection, which ceased in 1500, was not unsatisfactory to either party. Mantegna also met the famous Turkish hostage Jem and studied with attention the ancient monuments, but his impression of the city was a disappointing one as a whole. Returned to Mantua in 1490, he embraced again his more literary and bitter vision of antiquity, and entered in strong connection with the new marquise, the cultured and intelligent Isabella d’Este.
Mantegna presents both a distressing study of a powerfully foreshortened cadaver and an intensely poignant depiction of a biblical tragedy. This painting is one of many examples of Mantegna’s mastery of perspective. At first glance, the picture seems to display an accurate viewpoint. However, closer inspection shows that Mantegna reduced the size of the figure’s feet. Otherwise, the feet would have covered more of the body if adequately represented.
Mantegna stressed the anatomical details, in particular, Christ’s thorax, the holes in Christ’s hands and feet. Also, the faces of the mourners are portrayed without any idealism. The sharply drawn drapery which covers the corpse contributes to the dramatic effect. The composition places the central focus on the human anatomy of the figure. This focus supported a theological emphasis on the Humanity of Jesus at the time.