The Städel Museum
presents Focus on Andrea Mantegna: Mark the Evangelist, c. 1450 (Inv. No. 1046), on view through September 6, 2009. In spite of the signature inscribed in the cartellino near the pictures lower margin, the attribution of the Städels half-length figure of Saint Mark the Evangelist framed by a stone window, dating from 1450, had long been cast into doubt. It was only after the work had been cleansed and restored in the 1990s that the high quality of the painting on canvas was re-exposed. Since then it has unanimously been accepted as an autograph work dating from the artists early period and is in fact considered as one of Mantegnas earliest surviving works. This exhibition, to be staged within the Städels Focus series, is meant to pinpoint the various sources the young Mantegna referred to for his Mark the Evangelist. Apart from his profound knowledge of the rules of central perspective, the artist relied on impulses emanating from contemporary art production in Padua, as well as on motifs and formal principles deriving from antique models. On the other hand, his pronounced sense of realism in the treatment of detail and surface texture suggests an influence of early Netherlandish art. Moreover, X-ray photography and infrared reflectography have revealed that the pictorial concept was fundamentally revised in the course of the paintings execution. The search for the original composition also raises the question about the possible context for which this first conception of the canvas might have been intended. The exhibition was curated by Gabriel Dette (Städel Museum) and sponsored by Schering Stiftung.