ALBERTI, Leon Battista
(b. 1404, Genova, d. 1472, Roma)
Piazza Andrea Mantegna, Mantua
In 1470 Alberti produced designs for the basilica of Sant'Andrea in the centre of Mantua. The site was particularly important to Ludovico Gonzaga (1412-1478), marquis of the city, because it stood close by the Gonzaga palace and contained a relic, the supposed Blood of Christ.
Inside the church Alberti provides excellent visibility of the high altar and its sacred relic, creating a broad, single-aisled space covered with a 18 m wide coffered barrel vault, notably the largest since classical times. To support it, he followed Roman precedent, using not columns but huge piers, between which he placed side chapels.
Alberti's careful coordination of elements throughout the entire structure, interior and exterior alike, gave Ludovico Gonzaga the distinction of being patron of the first truly monumental, classicising structure of the fifteenth century.
View the ground plan of Sant'Andrea, Mantua.