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Andrea Mantegna’s unrivalled ability to bring the lost worlds of ancient Greece and Rome to life brought him enduring fame. He spent over 45 years as court artist to the Gonzaga family, the sophisticated rulers of Mantua. His powers of intellectual invention, mastery of illusionism and exceptional talent as a draughtsman dazzled his patrons and fellow artists. This is exemplified in his monumental 'Triumphs of Caesar' canvases on view nearby in Room 14.

There was much artistic exchange between Mantua and the nearby courtly centre of Ferrara, ruled by the Este family and native city of Cosimo Tura and Francesco del Cossa. Tura’s idiosyncratic, quirky paintings suggest a deep engagement both with the inventions of Mantegna and with early Netherlandish art, which was known and admired in Ferrara.

Like Mantegna and Tura, the Venetian-born Carlo Crivelli was among the many noteworthy artists who trained at the art academy of the painter Squarcione in Padua, others included Marco Zoppo and Giorgio Schiavone. After working on both sides of the Adriatic Sea, Crivelli settled in the mountainous region of the Marche in central Italy. His highly original paintings are characterised by a strong tension between the real and the unreal, reflecting his skilful amalgamation of the artistic elements from the places he had visited.