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Current time:0:00Total duration:6:30

Video transcript

so let's talk about this frescoed room by Andrea Montaigne yes first a little background information Montaigne was active in northern Italy first in Padua also Ferrara and around the Veneto in the middle of the 1400s and then in 1460 he's appointed by the Marquis of Mantua Ludovico Gonzaga to be the court artist of the court of Mantua and so he moves there in the 1460s so it's really important to recognize that what's happening in Mantua is going to be really different than what's happening in Florence yeah in other kinds of cities Mantua at this time is a court to two ruled by Oh Marquis which is a step below a Duke the Gonzaga family who'd been in control for quite a while are the single dominant rulers of the city and it's very different from a situation as you pointed out Florence or Venice which are republics and so Montaigne comes and he begins working on this project which is called the camera picta or the camera they dispose II the camera just means room camera RPK means the painted room one thing to point out is that besides the door frame and the mantelpiece and some architectural features like these brackets at the bottom of the vaults everything that we're looking at is paint it's just amazing to me that it's all pane it's completely frescoed all of the things that look like architectural decoration and worn events and moldings all of this is fresco so he made it look as though the walls are actually open we have the ceiling that's decorated with these architectural and sculptural forms and that it has an oculus or this open hole at the center of the ceiling that we'll take a look at all painted and painted very very naturalistically and with the careful attention to perspective as if you are seeing 3-dimensional objects from below or on the walls and that makes it kind of illusionistic as if it's really there and we're about 40 or 50 years after the death of masaccio so we're really in that full swing of the early renaissance and humanism and the rediscovery of classical antiquity that's right and Montagna was a big part of that speaking of classical antiquity or we can start in the ceiling and what we see is this oculus and then surrounding it is this architectural and sculptural ornamentation that's extremely classicizing in terms of the molding and the details and the ribbons and the garlands and the pootie and what they're holding are fictive reliefs of the first eight ancient roman emperors and so also then in the subject matter the ceiling is extremely classical what's important to point out is that we talk a lot about classical antiquity in the Renaissance and a revival of antiquity but it's important to remember that different types of cities drew from different types of classical antiquity and what we're looking at here with these portraits of the Emperor's is an imperial classical antiquity which is entirely appropriate for a court city like Mantua that's ruled by a marquis or any other city ruled by a Duke but this kind of imagery would have been completely inappropriate in a place like Florence private citizens in a republic would not have been allowed to decorate away in their house with Roman emperors no florence looked back to the period of ancient Rome when it was a republic and so it's important to remember that for the people in the Renaissance they were able to distinguish between different types of classical antiquity and pick what was most relevant to them below that again we see this open space and on the walls are frescoes of the Marquise Ludovico and his everyday life scenes in what supposedly Manchu and territory scenes from his activities and so here we see Ludovico meeting with his son the Cardinal in the landscape there's some pootie that are standing up on top of the door holding an inscription and then on this wall of we see Ludovico and his wife and his family and his favorite dog and the court little person all sitting around while he receives a message from an advisor on the far left and then coming up the stairs on the right are some visitors who are coming to greet him and that might be related to the function of this room which might have been a kind of ceremonial greeting space you see this extremely naturalistic illusionistic painting that creates the fiction of architectural spaces look at how the curtain seems to be pulled forward and in front of the column and so sometimes it's really hard to distinguish between what's real and what's not yeah there's a lot of fun clearly playing with those boundaries and using perspective to fool the eye right because you are looking slightly up at these figures they're standing on top of the fireplace and notice that you actually do look up at them you can see slightly up into the bottom of their tunics so you don't see the top surfaces of the stairs or the floor that they're standing on and so Mantinea is painting is as if you're really seeing them elevated in that position this is a part that's intentionally fun and humorous this is the oculus this opening oculus means eye and without a real opening not a real opening it's just painted from this desoto ensue from below radical perspective so we see everything very foreshortened the value Strayed this railing that circles the oculus the protti that are standing here you see them very foreshortened from below here's a peacock that we see from below you see several servants including an African born standing around and they're looking down and they're laughing if you look very carefully you'll notice that one of these women has her hand on this pole that's supporting this pot with a plant in it and the suggestion I think is that she's about to pull that pole away and that potted plant is going to fall right on your head and so that's the joke you're standing there looking up with your mouth hanging open and suddenly you realize that there's the joke the illusion of these objects that are going to fall inside there are other figures who look like they could drop things on us that's right man out of their hand other words of their body because look at these putti not wearing diapers with their little rear ends sticking out or the front of them facing us and so there may be other things falling on you too so on the one hand this room gives us a serious subject matter of the marquee as a ruler of his domain with this serious Imperial classicizing imagery of the ancient Roman emperors on the ceiling but at the same time in a kind of marginal location above your head what you might not see right away there's this pure aisle humorous joking kind of quality that lightens the atmosphere a little bit you