Madonna della Vittoria Andrea Mantegna Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Madonna della Vittoria by Andrea Mantegna is a painting that was executed in 1496. In the altarpiece, Francesco Gonzaga is paying homage to Mary, while she's is sitting on a high throne that is decorated with marbles bas-reliefs and intarsias.

The base of this throne, which has lion paws, also has within a medallion an inscription, and it lies on the round basement with the "Original Sin" bas-relief and other stories found in the Book of Genesis. The praying figures partly obscure them. The back of the throne has a huge solar disc, which is decorated with vitreous pearls and weavings.

Symbols of the Passion and Protection

The child Jesus is holding 2 red flowers, which are Symbols of the Passion. Mary is looking Francesco, who is kneeling with a grateful, smiling expression while receiving blessings. Also, the protection given to Francesco during the war is symbolised by Mary's mantle, partially covering his head.


At the sides are 2 couples of standing saints. There are 2 military saints in the foreground, St Longinus, who has a broken spear and the archangel St Michael, who has a sword. They are wearing richly decorated armours, and behind them are Saint Andrew, Mantua patron saint, with a long stick that has the cross and Saint George, who is also a military saint, is seen with a helmet plus a long red lance.

St. John the Baptist has a cross opposite to the donor. Also, opposite to the donor, there is St. Elizabeth, John the Baptist's mother and protector of Francesco's wife, Isabella d'Este. The choice of John the Baptist's mother in the role of a patron might have been chosen to act as a judgement message to the Norsa, made to compensate the work as a punishment for removing a Madonna image from their house. Unlike the Norsa, John the Baptist's mother, who is portrayed as a Jewess wearing a yellow turban, was the first one to recognise the sanctity of Mary.

The Scene of Madonna della Vittoria

The scene of the painting was set in an apse that's formed by a pergola of fruits, flowers and leaves, with several birds. At the top of the pergola's frame, there's a shell, which is an attribute of Mary as new Venus. The parrot represents a comment on Jesus' birth.