Relationship Between Art And Propaganda At The Renaissance Courts

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(7.) Discuss the relationship between art and propaganda at the Renaissance courts with detailed reference to (b.) Andrea Mantegna’s work for the Gonzaga at Mantua.

During the 15th century the ruling family of each of Italy’s districts retained an artist to depict their lives and work. These families used the artists that they retained to proselytise their vision of themselves; in other words, to create propaganda. Propaganda is communication (including dissemination of disinformation) with a political, religious, and/or personal agenda. In the case of the ruling families of Italy’s districts this was achieved by having artistic work created that paraded their successes and their virtues. This was often achieved through symbolic reference to figures from classical antiquity and Christianity (paragons of success and virtue). This kind of work demanded education to appreciate. In 1472 Ludovico Gonzaga retained Andrea Mantegna as the court painter of his family, the rulers of Mantua. Like any court painter his duties included creating family portraits, designing costumes for festival, and decorating chapels. 1.
1. E.H Gombrich, The Story of Art. London: Phaidon, 1995 p256-260

Yet like any court painter Mantegna’s main task was aggrandizing the Gonzagas. As stated earlier this was achieved through associating the family with classical and Christian figures, which implied that the former was as virtuous as the latter. Ludovico Gonzaga recognised Mantegna’s refined ability to
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