Wonders of Italy: The Bridal Chamber in Mantova


Meraviglie d’Italia: la Camera degli Sposi a Mantova
Mantegna - Ducal Palace, View of the west and north walls
Andrea Mantegna - Camera degli Sposi, View of the west and north walls

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The Camera degli Sposi, considered Mantua’s greatest attraction, is an absolute masterpiece of the northern Italian Renaissance. It was painted by Andrea Mantegna, who worked on it for nine years, from 1465 to 1474.

Commissioned by Ludovico Gonzaga, who was the powerful ruler of Mantua at the time, the Bridal Chamber is located inside Mantua’s Palazzo Ducale, within one of the towers of the Castle of San Giorgio. It is a celebration of the Gonzaga family, meant to amaze, and perhaps even intimidate, the visitor.

Despite its name, Mantegna's Camera degli Sposi was never meant as a bedroom for newlyweds, but rather as a boardroom where important guests were received.

Indeed, the decorations are meant to glorify the Gonzaga. On the walls are scenes from court life. In the ‘Court Scene’, a family portrait of the Gonzaga, Ludovico is seated and discusses a document with his secretary; in the ‘Meeting Scene’, Ludovico is surrounded by his family as he receives news of his son Francesco's appointment as cardinal.

Each character is faithfully portrayed; Ludovico, his wife Barbara and his children can be easily recognized. Other important figures of the time, with whom the Gonzaga maintained political relationships, are also depicted, as well as mythological subjects and portraits of Roman emperors, intended to communicate to the observer the prestige and power of the Gonzaga, who ruled over Mantua for four centuries. 

But the most striking effect is when you look up: Mantegna has created the illusion of a breach in the ceiling, and the viewer can observe the blue sky through an oculus overlooked by putti and female figures.

The best observation point to take it all in is the center of the room. 

Mantua’s historic center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site for its role in spreading the culture of the Renaissance, thanks to the Gonzaga.


La Camera degli Sposi, considerata la più grande attrazione di Mantova, è un capolavoro assoluto del Rinascimento dell’Italia del nord. Fu dipinta da Andrea Mantegna, che vi lavorò per nove anni, dal 1465 al 1474.

Commissionata da Ludovico Gonzaga, il potente sovrano di Mantova dell’epoca, la Camera degli Sposi si trova all'interno del Palazzo Ducale di Mantova, in una delle torri del Castello di San Giorgio. Si tratta di una celebrazione della famiglia dei Gonzaga, pensata per stup

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