In the early 1460s, Andrea Mantegna accepted an invitation from Ludovico III Gonzaga to serve as court artist in the northern Italian city of Mantua. Over a period of four decades, Mantegna produced a variety of works for the Gonzaga, including paintings, altarpieces, and decorations for their palaces. One such work was the Adoration of the Magi, now in the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence, likely created for Ludovico’s private chapel in the Castello di San Giorgio.
This tender drawing of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus seems to depict a detail from Mantegna’s Adoration of the Magi painting. The pose of the two figures in both the painting and drawing are extremely similar, though the setting differs. When the drawing was purchased by Charlotte Hyde in 1934, it was thought to have been created by Mantegna himself. Recent scholarship suggests that the drawing was more likely made by one of Mantegna’s contemporaries, after the painting. The high quality of the drawing—executed in brush, ink, and graphite—is not in doubt, and in 1992 the work was featured in a landmark Mantegna exhibition at the Royal Academy in London and Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Spotlight by Bryn Schockmel
See this work, and many other gems from the permanent collection, in our upcoming exhibition Celebrating 60 Years: The Collector Charlotte Pruyn Hyde, on view from May 6–September 17, 2023.