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Andrea Mantegna, The Triumphs of Caesar: 4, The Vase-Bearers

Key facts
Full title The Triumphs of Caesar: 4, The Vase-Bearers
Artist Andrea Mantegna
Artist dates about 1431 - 1506
Series The Triumphs of Caesar
Date made mid-1480s-before 1506
Medium and support Egg tempera on canvas
Dimensions 269.5 × 280 cm
Inscription summary Inscribed
Acquisition credit On loan from His Majesty The King
Inventory number L1326
Location Room 14
Image copyright On loan from His Majesty The King, Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2023
Collection Main Collection
The Triumphs of Caesar: 4, The Vase-Bearers
Andrea Mantegna

This canvas is the fourth of a series of nine painted by Andrea Mantegna depicting The Triumphs of Caesar.

This is the best-preserved of Mantegna’s Triumphs of Caesar. The scene continues the forward thrust established in the first three canvases (The Trumpeters, The Triumphal Carts and The Trophy Bearers), though Mantegna reduces the number of figures and objects displayed in this part of the procession, allowing for more of the landscape beyond to be seen. The canvas shows a group of men carrying precious plates and vases, continuing in the wake of the carts depicted in The Trophy Bearers. They are followed by younger men who lead oxen, adorned for sacrifice. Behind them a group of musicians sound long trumpets, decorated with banners honouring Caesar and bearing the initials ‘SPQR’ (Senatus Populusque Romanus or ‘The Senate and People of Rome’). A ruined city presides over the steep hills in the background.

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The Triumphs of Caesar


These are six of the nine monumental canvases known as The Triumphs of Caesar, painted by Andrea Mantegna between the mid-1480s and 1506. They depict a magnificent procession celebrating the victories of the Roman general – and later dictator – Julius Caesar over Gaul between 58 and 50 BC.

Mantegna embarked on this highly ambitious project when he was working as court painter for the ruling Gonzaga family in Mantua. He drew on ancient and contemporary writings for this powerful and sustained evocation of the classical world, as well as the imagery of Roman antiquities, such as friezes and monumental arches.

The Triumphs were acquired by King Charles I of England in 1629, when he purchased many Gonzaga treasures. Considered the jewel in the crown of the king’s paintings, they arrived in England the following year and were hung in Hampton Court Palace.

The Triumphs have since seldom left Hampton Court, but their dedicated gallery is now undergoing refurbishment (completion planned for 2026). Six of the nine are on display in the National Gallery, having been generously loaned by His Majesty the King.