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Anonymus Mantuanus A

The Drawings by the Anonymus Mantuanus A in the Architectural and Antiquarian Culture of Renaissance Europe


Humboldt Research Fellowships for Postdoctoral Researchers (April 2017–March 2019)
Dr. Francesca Mattei (Politecnico di Milano)

The dissemination of Italian art throughout all of Europe during the Renaissance period is a complex and problematic phenomenon. The many ways in which the Italian culture was diffused are to be studied in depth. The drawings by Anonymous Mantuanus A constitute a significant case-study on these issues. Among the drawings, attributed to him, it is possible to identify two considerable groups: the Codex Fol. A 45 (Graphische Sammlung Schloss Wilhelmsöhe, Museumslandschaft Hessen-Kassel) and the Marten van Heemskerck Album II (Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, inv. 79.D.2a).

This corpus is dedicated to ancient monuments and to Renaissance pictorial art and architecture. Due to the analysis of the handwriting and the subjects, the drawings are datable to the thirties and the forties of the sixteenth century. The identity and the name – and maybe the provenance – of the Anonymous Mantuanus A remain to be clarified.

Hitherto, the drawings collected in Berlin and in Kassel have been studied especially for their relationship with the Antique. The project that Francesca Mattei is carrying out at the Census, supported by a biennial Alexander von Humboldt fellowship, focuses on the Renaissance subjects. Her work aims to analyse the link between these collections of drawings and the architectural culture at the court of Mantua during the age of Giulio Romano – architect of Federico II and Ercole Gonzaga. Several elements suggest the connection with the Mantuan duchy: on the one hand, the unit of measurement used by the anonymous author is the braccio mantovano. On the other hand, some sheets – especially in the Heemskerck Album II – point out the particular connection with Giulio Romano: they include representations of his Palazzo Te and Palazzo Ducale in Mantua; six sheets are linked to the Codex Chlumczansky (Národní Galerie, Prague), formerly owned by Federico II Gonzaga.

By starting from the drawings attributed to the Anonymous Mantuanus A, this research aims to understand the way in which the language and the work by Giulio Romano was propagated across Europe, considering the analysis of the built evidences – such as the palace of Ludwig X of Bavaria in Landshut or the palace of Henry III of Nassau in Breda – as well as the history of collecting drawings north of the Alps.



This project is funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

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