1502 Italian House: Casa Mantegna / Andrea Mantegna

© franceschinik | Casa Mantegna Circular Patio

Completed in 1502, Casa Mantegna (also called Casa Mantegna) was built in Mantua for the famous painter Andrea Mantegna. The revolutionary design consisted of an external cube containing a circular atrium.

Casa Mantegna Technical Information

The design was revolutionary, consisting of an external cube containing a circular atrium open to the sky and echoing a Roman amphitheater, set back slightly in the square to create larger frontal spaces to left and right. The overall proportions were calculated from complex mathematical, geometrical and probably musical harmonic principles.

New York Times

Mantegna House Photographs
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© Michele M. F | Casa Mantegna Circular Patio

1502 Italian House: Casa Mantegna / Andrea Mantegna

© Sailko – Wikimedia Creative Commons | Casa Mantegna Circular Patio

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© Wikimedia Creative Commons | Casa Mantegna Circular Patio

1502 Italian House: Casa Mantegna / Andrea Mantegna

© GeobiaWikimedia Creative Commons | Casa Mantegna Circular Patio

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© Wikimedia Creative Commons | Casa Mantegna Circular Patio

Casa Mantegna article

The Casa del Mantegna (also called Casa Mantegna) was built in 1476–1502 in Mantua for the famous Painter Andrea Mantegna.  The date of October 18th, 1476, is still visible in the corner marble slab on the left-hand side of the façade. Ludovico Gonzaga gave him the land, as that was the easiest way for him to pay for the Painter’s services.

Mantegna himself projected his House, but it took him twenty years to finish it, and unfortunately soon after that, in 1502, he was forced to sell it to Francesco Gonzaga as part of a business exchange. When Mantegna conceived the House, the principles of classical architecture and their application to modern buildings were a subject of passionate study and debate. The polymath, Leon Battista Alberti at about that time, provided Ludovico Gonzaga with designs for two churches in Mantua, San Sebastiano, and the basilica of Sant’Andrea, that drew on classical forms, with facades borrowing elements from Roman temple fronts and triumphal arches.

The structure of the House is very peculiar: a cubic building with a cylindrical courtyard at the center. The geometry of this courtyard defines the House. A two floors cylinder intersects with a square to achieve the “squaring of the circle” in the patio. The interior windows follow the geometry of this cylinder, having a small curvature.

This may recall the structure of a Roman Domus with the rooms opening onto the courtyard. Still, it also seems to remember the typology of the buildings suggested by Leon Battista Alberti, with the symbolic use of the square and the circle, besides already experimented by Mantegna in The Oculus of the Bridal Chamber in St. George’s Castle. In the rooms opening onto the round courtyard are still visible traces of decorations along with the emblem of Marquis Ludovico II. A little dome probably covered the patio, now lost.

Mantegna House Plans
1502 Italian House: Casa Mantegna / Andrea Mantegna

Axonometric Plan | Casa Mantegna

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Floor Plans | Casa Mantegna

About Andrea Mantegna

Andrea Mantegna (1431 – 1506) was an Italian painter, a student of Roman archeology, and son-in-law of Jacopo Bellini. Like other artists of the time, Mantegna experimented with perspective, e.g., by lowering the horizon to create a sense of greater monumentality. His flinty, metallic landscapes and somewhat stony figures give evidence of a fundamentally sculptural approach to painting. He also led a workshop that was the leading producer of prints in Venice before 1500.

Cite this article: "Casa Mantegna in Italy (1502 House) / Andrea Mantegna" in ArchEyes, March 28, 2016, https://archeyes.com/casa-mantegna-house-andrea/.