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Andrea Mantegna, Portrait of Cardinal Ludovico Trevisan (detail), 1459-1460, tempera on panel,Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

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Andrea Mantegna| Portrait of Cardinal Ludovico Trevisan


'It has been said that the Renaissance witnessed the rediscovery of the individual. In keeping with this notion, early Renaissance Italy also hosted the first great age of portraiture in Europe. Portraiture assumed a new importance, whether it was to record the features of a family member for future generations, celebrate a prince or warrior, extol the beauty of a woman, or make possible the exchange of a likeness among friends. This exhibition will bring together approximately 160 works—by artists including Donatello, Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Verrocchio, Ghirlandaio, Pisanello, Mantegna, Giovanni Bellini, and Antonello da Messina, and in media ranging from painting and manuscript illumination to marble sculpture and bronze medals, testifying to the new vogue for and uses of portraiture in fifteenth-century Italy.'[1]

The Portrait of Cardinal Ludovico Trevisan is a painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna, dated to c. 1459-1460.
The identification of the painting's subject as the Venetian cardinal Ludovico Trevisan is confirmed by several copies of the work, as that once in the Bromley Davenport Collection including the man's name, titles and coat of arms, as well as by a medal attributed to Cristoforo di Geremia or an etching included in the 1630 Illustrium virorum elogia, where it is also specified that the portrait belonged to Francesco Leone of Padua.

Cardinal Trevisan, later also known as Scarampi Mezzarota, took part in the council of Mantua in 1459: the portrait was commissioned to Mantegna when the artist was still in Padua, little time before he established himself in Mantua.

Mantegna painted monumental likenesses that combine the particularity of Eyckian physiognomy with the authority of ancient Roman busts. The portrait of Cardinal Trevisani, the physician to Pope Eugenius IV, suggests a statue come to life, a bust animated by light washing over its forceful features.


The cardinal is portrayed from in a three-quarter position over a dark background, with strong chiaroscuro effects which enhance the volume of the figure, turning it into a king of Roman-style bust in painting.

The serious and concentrated glance and the detail of the closed lips underline the strong character of the man, who was not only a politician and diplomat, but also a war leader. Mantegna gave a notable attention not only to the details of the face (lips, wrinkles, the clerical tonsure), but also to the garments, indicating his high social status.

Andrea Mantegna, Portrait of Cardinal Ludovico Trevisan


La Grande Storia dell'Arte - Il Quattrocento, Il Sole 24 Ore, 2005

Kleiner, Frank S. Gardner's Art Through the Ages, 13th Edition, 2008

Manca, Joseph. Andrea Mantegna and the Italian Renaissance, 2006

[1] The Cardinal Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, Cardinal Ludovico Scarampi Mezzarota Trevisano, was born in Padua in 1401, of "low and obscure lineage", where he studied medicine and natural science, obtaining a doctorate from the University of Padua in 1425. His early successes in papal service were in the military sphere. It is said that he was one of Pope Eugenius' many physicians [Gaetano Marini, Degli archiatri ponttifici Volume primo (Roma 1784), xxix, 142-143 ]. In 1435 he was appointed Bishop of Trau, and in 1437 he became Archbishop of Florence. He was appointed Patriarch of Aquileia in 1439. In 1440 he was created Cardinal with the titulus of San Lorenzo in Damaso. He was again successful in the military sphere in 1440, aiding the Papacy and Florence against Niccolò Piccinino the captain of the Lombard League. As Legate of the March of Ancona he freed the March of Ancona from the clutches of Francesco Sforza. In the last months of Pope Eugenius' life he was in charge of all of the castelli and fortified places under papal control. He was named admiral of the papal fleet in 1455, and fought the Turks in the eastern Mediterranean (1455-1459), on account of which he did not participate in the Conclave of 1458. He was promoted Cardinal Bishop of Albano in 1465, and died in that year in Rome. He was buried in his titular church. [Source: Cardella III, 95-98; Moroni, Dizionario storico-ecclesiastica 45, 12-14]
[2] The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini |

Giorgio Vasari | Lives of the Most Eminent Painters Sculptors and Architects

Art in Tuscany | Art in Tuscany | Giorgio Vasari | Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects

Volume III | Filarete And Simone To Mantegna

The Andrea Mantegna, Cardinal Ludovico Trevisan. Ca. 1460, was part of an exhibit at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art |

Renaissance Portrait From Donatello to Bellini' - Review - NYTimes |
'(...)The standard format in painting early on was the profile, which, however beautifully realized in works by Masaccio, Fra Filippo Lippi, Pisanello and others, appears static, like an image on a shop sign. Profiles prevailed not for lack of technical know-how, but for symbolic reasons suggested by numerous medals included in the show. Each of these circular, cast metal objects, ranging from two to four inches in diameter, has the profile of a personage on one side and eclectic imagery, including unicorns, eagles and astrological personae, on the other; copies circulated throughout Europe like high-end calling cards.
They were inspired by ancient Roman coins, whose profiles of great leaders suggested transcendental timelessness. One, made by Matteo de’ Pasti for Leon Battista Alberti, pictures a disembodied eye with a wing attached on the reverse side, symbolizing a quasi-divine omniscience. So too, painted profiles rendered their subjects as idealized figures out of time.
From around midcentury on, painters shifted to three-quarter and frontal formats, and the people they painted became more lifelike. Subjects started to look back at viewers or stare thoughtfully into space. They began to have an appearance of physical animation and vitality.
The earliest surviving example of a three-quarter view is Andrea del Castagno’s 1450-57 picture of a man in a voluminous red robe and an early Beatles haircut who fixes his eyes on us with enigmatic intent.
And Andrea Mantegna’s close-up portrait of Cardinal Ludovico Trevisan from 1459-60, in which the fierce, square-jawed cleric leans to his right and looks up to his left, projects an especially palpable feeling of a living, contemporary presence.'

Giorgio Vasari | Lives of the Most Eminent Painters Sculptors and Architects | Andrea Mantegna

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