Camera picta, Palazzo Ducale, Mantua

(Camera degli Sposi; 1465-1474)
   The Camera Picta, or Painted Chamber, is the audience room in the Ducal Palace in Mantua frescoed by Andrea Mantegna for Ludovico Gonzaga and his family. The scenes utilize a journalistic approach as they depict contemporary events related to the ducal family. Ludovico is shown receiving a letter that informs him of his son's recent appointment as cardinal. At his side are his wife, Barbara of Brandenburg, their children, courtiers, and dwarfs. The painted space continues the actual architecture of the room, with figures climbing stairs that lead to the real mantle above the fireplace. Also included is the meeting between Ludovico and his son and a hunting scene. On the ceiling, Roman busts of emperors are painted in a monochrome palette to compare Ludovico's rulership to theirs. In the center is a painted oculus (round opening) that permits a view of the sky. Surrounding it is a balustrade from which putti and servants, rendered in heavy foreshortening, peer down at the viewer and smile. The trompe l'oeil effect is enhanced by a large fictive planter that seems about to topple and crash into the viewer's space. Mantegna's technical mastery in these scenes recall Melozzo da Forli's di sotto in sù and other illusionistic devices he used in his works for Sixtus IV and his family, the della Rovere. It also fore-shadows the spectacular illusionistic ceilings of the 17th century.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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