Anonymus Mantuanus A

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

Humboldt Post­doc­toral Rese­arch Fellow­ship (April 2017 to March 2018), 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 for these issues. Among the drawings attri­buted to him, it is possible to iden­tify two signi­fi­cant 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 visual 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.

Thus far, the drawings in the two groups have prima­rily been examined with regard to their refe­rences to anti­quity. The project of Fran­cesca Mattei, funded by a two-year grant from the Alex­ander von Humboldt Foun­da­tion, focused on the Renais­sance subjects. Her work aimed at analy­sing the link between these collec­tions of drawings and the archi­tec­tural culture at the court of Mantua during the era of Giulio Romano – archi­tect of Federico II and Ercole Gonzaga. Several factors suggest a connec­tion with the Duchy of Mantua: on the one hand, the unit of measu­re­ment used by the anony­mous author was the braccio manto­vano. On the other hand, some sheets – espe­cially in the Van Heems­kerck Album II – point to a parti­cular connec­tion with Giulio Romano: they include repre­sen­ta­tions of his Palazzo Te and Palazzo Ducale in Mantua; while six sheets are linked to the Codex Chlumc­z­ansky (Národní Galerie, Prague), form­erly owned by Federico II Gonzaga.

Based on the inves­ti­ga­tion of the drawings of the Anony­mous Mantuanus A, the project aimed to under­stand the ways in which Giulio Romano’s stylistic language spread in Europe. It involved the analysis of archi­tec­tural  works — such as the palace of Duke 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.

Anonymus Mantuanus A, Berlin, SMB-PK, Kupfer­stich­ka­bi­nett, inv. 79.D.2a, fol 8r

This project was funded through the post­doc­toral fellow­ship program of the Alex­ander von Humboldt Foundation.