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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. Born into relative poverty, Mantegna spent over 45 years as court artist to the Gonzaga family, the sophisticated rulers of Mantua. His powers of invention, mastery of illusionism and exceptional talent as a draughtsman dazzled his patrons and his fellow artists.

Like Mantegna, the Venice-born painter Carlo Crivelli trained in the university city of Padua, at the ‘Art Academy’ run by the painter Squarcione. After working on both sides of the Adriatic Sea, Crivelli settled in the mountainous region of the Marche in central Italy. The originality of his works, which blend the real and the fantastical, derives from his ability to incorporate into his paintings elements inspired by the artistic cultures of these various places.

The works in this room all date to the latter phases in both painters’ careers and showcase their distinctly different styles. Nonetheless, they also reveal how certain characteristics of their shared Paduan formation endured: virtuosity in the depiction of stone and still life elements, a predilection for bold spatial design and classical motifs and the use of strong, black outlines to give forms a chiselled sharpness.