(b. 1431, Isola di Carturo, d. 1506, Mantova)

St Mark

Casein on canvas, 82 x 64 cm
Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt

In this painting, Mark the Evangelist is sitting at a window and looking past the viewer, though his arm and book seem to reach out over the barrier of the balustrade into the viewer's space. This type of composition was derived from Flemish antecedents.

Mantegna's first painting on canvas is a key work in his development. For the first time, the artist tried out the effect of the painted frame here, representing Mark in a thoughtful mood. This work was long considered to be from his studio, since there was some doubt about the genuineness of the signature and also therefore the early date. The doubts are reinforced by the fact that neither the patron nor the place it was painted are known.