Bacchanal with a Wine Vat

Andrea Mantegna (Italian, Isola di Carturo 1430/31–1506 Mantua)

ca. 1470–90
Engraving and drypoint
11-3/4 x 17-1/4 in. (29.8 x 43.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Rogers Fund, The Charles Engelhard Foundation Gift, and The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1986
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Throughout his life, Mantegna was fascinated with classical antiquity. Giorgio Vasari, in the middle of the sixteenth century, was but the first of many to note how Mantegna's work in two dimensions possessed a sculptural quality, writing that "Andrea was ever of the opinion that the good ancient statues were more perfect and had greater beauty in their various parts than is shown by nature." From 1488 to 1490, Mantegna spent a year and a half in Rome, immersed in the study of ancient buildings and the statues and relief sculptures that were being excavated and collected with fervor by antiquarians. After his return to Mantua in the 1490s, Mantegna continued to draw on his Roman experience.

    This composition and its companion Bacchanal with Silenus were inspired by antique sarcophagi that were in the collections of the della Valle family and in the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, and are prime examples of the way Mantegna's imagination could endlessly reformulate antique sources into entirely original designs. While it has been suggested that these prints record a decorative scheme for one of the Gonzaga palaces, it is equally likely that Mantegna made use of the medium to explore his own interests, apart from the demands of the court, and as a way to make his inventions known beyond a narrow circle of patrons.

  • Provenance

    The Devonshire Collection, Chatsworth ; Vendor: David Tunick, Inc.

  • Exhibition History

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Philippe de Montebello Years: Curators Celebrate Three Decades of Acquisitions," October 24, 2008–February 1, 2009.

  • Catalogue Raisonné

    B.XIII.240.19 and 20; H.V.12-13; MMA (1992) cat. no. 74, p.279-81

  • References

    Colta Ives, Janet S. Byrne, Suzanne Boorsch, Mary L. Myers, David W. Kiehl Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1986-1987: Prints. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987, pp. 46-7, ill.

    Suzanne Boorsch, Keith Christiansen, David Ekserdjian, Charles Hope, David Landau Andrea Mantegna. Exh. cat. Royal Academy of Arts, London, 17 January - 5 April, 1992; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 5 May - 12 July, 1992. Jane Martineau, Milan, 1992, cat. no. 74, fig. no. 74, p. 279, ill.

    Mantegna. Ex. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992, cat. no. 74.

  • See also