Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Triumph of Caesar

Andrea Mantegna (c. 1431 – September 13, 1506)
Caesar on his Chariot, Canvas IX of The Triumph of Caesar

Mantegna completed the nine tempera paintings comprising The Triumph of Caesar around 1492.

These superbly invented and designed compositions are gorgeous with the splendour of their subject-matter, and with the classical learning and enthusiasm of one of the master-spirits of the age.

They are considered Mantegna's finest work.

They were sold in 1628 along with the bulk of the Mantuan art treasures to King Charles I of England.

They are now in Hampton Court Palace, somewhat faded, but many repaintings have been removed in a recent restoration.

They depict the celebratory military parade of Julius Caesar.

The series depicts Caesar on a triumphal chariot returning from his successful campaigns, in a procession of Roman soldiers, standard-bearers, musicians and the spoils of war including an assortment of booty (including arms, intricate sculpture and gold vases), exotic animals and captives.

Each canvas measures 2.66 x 2.78m. In total they cover an area more than 70 metres square.

Even Oliver Cromwell did not sell these paintings.

The canvasses are entitled:

I The Trumpeters
II The Triumphal Carts
III The Trophy Bearers
IV The Vase Bearers
V The Elephants
VI The Corselet Bearers
VII The Captives
VII The Musicians
IX Julius Caesar on his Chariot

The images can be viewed at The Royal Collection website