Mantua 1548 - Mantua 1608


Although sometimes described as a pupil of Giulio Romano, Ippolito Andreasi was born in Mantua two years after the death of Giulio, and was instead probably trained by one of the master’s local followers, possibly Lorenzo Costa the Younger. One of his first commissions was for a series of drawings recording the appearance and interior decoration of Giulio Romano’s buildings in Mantua, produced for the architect and collector Jacopo Strada around 1568. Andreasi soon rose to become one of the foremost exponents of the Mantuan maniera, and among the leading artists working in the city in the last quarter of the 16th century.

His first documented paintings were fresco decorations in several rooms of the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua, executed between 1577 and 1580 and, like much of his painted work, now lost. He painted allegorical frescoes for the now-destroyed ducal castle of Goito in 1586 and 1587, together with scenes depicting the history and achievements of the Gonzaga family. Further important ecclesiastical commissions in Mantua followed; for the churches of Sant’Andrea, Ognissanti, the Duomo and elsewhere. Andreasi may also have worked as an architect, as he was appointed 'prefetto delle fabbriche' at the Gonzaga court, but nothing is known of his efforts in this field. He produced several cartoons for tapestries, designed theatre sets and scenery, made designs for engravings and provided illustrations for an edition of Tasso’s Gerusalemme Liberata. Among his last important works were an altarpiece of the Annunciation for the church of Santa Maria in Cestello in Viadana, followed by the decoration of the cupola of the Duomo in Mantua, completed in 1605. Andreasi died in 1608 at the age of sixty, murdered by his wife’s lover; a fact that may have contributed to the decline of his reputation after his death.

The largest surviving group of drawings by Andreasi is a collection of some eighty sheets - copies after the architecture, frescoes and decorations of the Palazzo Te and the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua, commissioned by Jacopo Strada - in the Museum Kunst Palast in Düsseldorf. A smaller but equally significant group of drawings by Andreasi is in the Louvre, and other sheets are in the British Museum, the Kunstbibliothek in Berlin, the Albertina in Vienna, the Uffizi in Florence, the Biblioteca Reale in Turin and elsewhere.