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

Christ the Redeemer

c. 1500
Oil and tempera on canvas, 55 x 71 cm
Musée du Petit Palais, Paris

Between 1490 and 1506, the year he died, Mantegna painted several devotional paintings in which the main figures are represented as reliefs standing out against a mostly dark background. Inspired by reliefs on classical tombs, these figures are shown partially hidden behind stone balustrades or a frame. The present painting belongs to this group.

The iconography of this painting is unusual, though used by Mantegna more tan once. Portraying the Child Christ as the ruler of the world, Imperator Mundi, was less current in Italy than in Germany, and showing the Madonna sewing is very unusual. By working with her hands, Mary is demonstrating that she is God's humble handmaiden. This portrayal was presumably not based on one of Mantegna's own designs.