Painter, draftsman, and printmaker Andrea Mantegna was born near Padua, Italy, around 1431. At the age of eleven, he entered the workshop of Francesco Squarcione, who legally adopted him after the death of his father. At seventeen, Mantegna won his independence from Squarcione after bringing him to court for exploitation and fraud.
During the fifteenth century, Padua's intellectual climate and relative abundance of classical works of art and artifacts helped shape Mantega's interest in classical antiquity. His precise, seemingly sculptural painting style reflects these influences. When Mantegna was only eighteen, he was commissioned to decorate the Ovetari Chapel of the Eremitani Church in Padua with frescoes from the lives of Saint Christopher and Saint James the Greater. Eleven years later, he was appointed court painter to the Gonzaga family, the rulers of Mantua. The frescoes he made for the Gonzaga palace, which glorified the family and their court in a compelling illusionistic style, were among his crowning achievements. Mantegna's fame never declined, and his influence extended from Italian artists such as his brother-in-law Giovanni Bellini to northern artists like Albrecht Dürer, who found Mantegna's interpretation of ancient art easy to assimilate.