Mantova nella Divina Commedia
Quindi passando la vergine cruda 
Vide terra, nel mezzo del pantano, 
senza coltura e d’abitanti nuda. 
Lì, per fuggire ogne consorzio umano, 
ristette coi suoi servi a far sue arti, 
e visse, e vi lasciò suo corpo vano. 
Li uomini poi che ‘ntorno erano sparti 
s’accolsero a quel loco, ch’era forte 
per lo pantan ch’avea da tutte parti. 
Fer la città sovra quell’ossa morte; 
e per colei ch’el loco prima elesse, 
Mantüa l’appellar sanz’altra sorte. 

Mantua in der Göttlichen Komödie 
Als dort vorbei die wilde Jungfrau kam, 
erblickte sie im Sumpfe festes Land, 
ein ödes, unbebautes, unbewohntes, 
und blieb, die menschliche Gemeinschaft scheuend, 
mit ihren Dienern dort und lebte so 
in ihren Künsten und entschwand dem Leibe. 
Dann sammelten die rings zerstreuten Menschen 
An diesem Platz sich, denn er war gut 
Durch Sumpfgelände allerseits gesichert. 
Sie bauten ihre Stadt auf Mantos Grab 
Und tauften ohne weitern Zauber sie 
Nach ihr, die diesen Platz erwählte. 

Mantua in the Divine Comedy 
Passing that way, the savage virgin 
Saw Land there in the middle of the swamp, 
untilled and barren of inhabitants. 
There, to flee all human fellowship, 
with her slaves she stopped to ply her arts, 
and there she lived and left her empty body. 
Later the people who were dispersed about 
gathered to that place, since it was protected. 
By the swamp that ringed it on all sides. 
Over her dead bones they built a city 
and, after her who first picked out the site, 
without casting lots, they named it Mantua.

Dante Alighieri 
(Firenze, 1265 - Ravenna, 1321)
Inferno, XX, 81-93

Angelo Bronzino, Dante (1530)
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA

Vincenzo Gonzaga - Il fasto del potere

18 FEBBRAIO - 10 GIUGNO 2012

Una mostra raffinata, che rivela la figura di VINCENZO I GONZAGA (1562-1612), splendido principe delle corti d’Europa, che portò il ducato di Mantova a diventare un importante centro d’arte e la cui corte si misurava per sfarzo con quelle dei grandi regni europei e italiani. 
Vincenzo, il sovrano che ebbe per sé poeti come Torquato Tasso, musici quali Claudio Monteverdi e pittori della grandezza di Rubens. 
I quadri e le opere esposti in mostra evocano la magnificenza della corte. Ma anche i vincoli di sangue che legarono Vincenzo, che aveva sposato in seconde nozze Eleonora de’ Medici, alla casa d’Austria (la mamma era l’arciduchessa d’Austria Eleonora d’Asburgo ed i nonni materni erano l’imperatore Ferdinando I ed Anna Jagellone, regina d’Ungheria e Boemia) ed alla Francia, poiché re Enrico IV di Borbone era suo cognato, agli Este ed ai Savoia, senza dimenticare che la figlia Eleonora diventò imperatrice, sposando Ferdinando II d’Asburgo. Il Vincenzo del fasto e del potere appunto. 
Il duca che istituì un ordine cavalleresco tra i principali d’Europa, l’Ordine Militare del Sangue di Gesù Cristo, commissionò architetture imponenti e animò la reggia con spettacoli sontuosi. Un libertino, come si diceva, ma anche un uomo di fede, fortemente legato al cugino, il beato (e successivamente santo) Luigi Gonzaga. 
Al Museo Diocesano ‘Francesco Gonzaga’ 80 opere, tra gioielli, dipinti, armature, incisioni, tessuti, per lo più inediti, delineeranno la figura di Vincenzo I Gonzaga, IV duca di Mantova e II duca del Monferrato, dal 1587 al 1612. 
L’esposizione ha una preziosa appendice nella reggia di Palazzo Ducale che, per l’occasione, apre tutti gli ambienti dell’appartamento ducale di Vincenzo. 

18 FEBRUARY - 10 JUNE 2012

A very refined exhibition that reveals the figure of VINCENZO GONZAGA IV DUKE OF MANTUA AND II DUKE OF MONFERRAT (1562-1612), an European brilliant prince, who turned Mantua into a vibrant cultural centre. His court was not less gorgeous than all the other European courts. 
Vincenzo was a major patron of the arts and sciences; he employed the composer Claudio Monteverdi and the painter Peter Paul Rubens as well as the poet Torquato Tasso. 
The canvas and objects displayed at the exhibition evoke the splendour of Vincenzo’s court. But also the relationship with the main European courts: his mother was the Emperor's daughter Archduchess Eleanor of Austria and his maternal grandparents were Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor and Anna of Bohemia and Hungary. Vincenzo married Eleonora de' Medici, the dynasty ruling over Florence and in this way the king of France, Henry IV of the House of Bourbon, was his brother-in-law (he married Eleonor’s sister Maria de’ Medici). One of Vincenzo’s daughters, Eleonora, became then Empress when she married Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor. The splendor of power. 
The pomp of the court. 
Vincenzo was the duke who instituted the Blood of Jesus Christ Military Order, one of the most important in Europe and who built imposing architectures around Mantua. An impenitent libertine, but also a man of faith, who was really bound to his cousin (Saint) Aloysius Gonzaga. 
At the Diocesan Museum “Francesco Gonzaga” 80 works, such as jewels, paintings, armours, engravings, books, lettres, fabrics, often only known by specialists will illustrate the age of Vincenzo Gonzaga, duke from 1587 to 1612. 
The visit to Vincenzo's apartments in the Ducal Palace is another great opportunity to know and understand the Duke.

Vincenzo Gonzaga nel giorno dell'incoronazione a duca

Vedi anche, sehen Sie auch, see also

Facebook in the 1500s?

Isabella d'Este  (Ferrara, 17 maggio 1474 – Mantova, 13 febbraio 1539)
Vincenzo I Gonzaga
 (Mantova, 21 settembre 1562 – Mantova, 18 febbraio 1612)

Prof. Sally Hickson, art historian at the University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada) says social networking is older than we think. 

Think of it as the Facebook of Renaissance Italy. 

Without the Internet, social networking was tougher in the 1500s, but VINCENZO I. GONZAGA, DUKE OF MANTUA from 1587 to 1613, found a way. He called it his GALLERY OF BEAUTY .
It was a collection of more than 30 painted portraits of women from across Europe. He even hired his own artists and commissioned them to travel to other countries to paint the portraits of those he wanted to include. Other aristocrats followed suit and created their own galleries. 

Art history professor Sally Hickson says these galleries show that social networking is not as new as we might imagine. It seems to have been popular among the wealthy in Renaissance Italy, although in a rather different form. As she explains: “Women wanted to be included in these galleries, and for both the women and the gallery owners, it was about who had the most friends and was the most popular. Yes, just like Facebook” .

Women in the gallery were not included only because of physical beauty, although Hickson points out that beauty, especially female beauty, was very important during this time period. Many were chosen because they were married or related to powerful men of the time, she speculates. 
“Women also exchanged portraits with each other”, she adds. In a time when travel was slow and often difficult, these paintings and the letters they mailed helped them keep in touch and expand their social networks. 

As an art historian, Hickson studies not only the works of art created during this time period, but also the ways in which art was used in people’s daily lives. Often, art adds beauty and style to people’s homes, but these collections of individual portraits suggest another way that art helped to create connections between people. 

VINCENZO GONZAGA, she points out, was networking with important people across Europe by sending the artists out to paint portraits. “It would be very flattering to be asked to sit for a portrait to be included in his gallery of beauty.” (Certainly it’s several notches above being asked to be someone’s Facebook friend, but the idea is the same). There might also be a chilling effect on the status of someone who was not invited to be included in the collection. 
VINCENZO GONZAGA, of course, had additional motivation: he could elevate his own social status by inviting people in to see the gallery and be impressed by all the elegant and well-connected women he knew. 

While studying these portrait collections, Hickson learned about a manuscript owned by Francis I of France, who ruled several decades before Vincenzo Gonzaga’s time. The manuscript consisted of small painted portraits of women from the Italian city of Milan which had been recently taken over by France. Each portrait was hidden by a little flap of paper with a poem about the woman that was written on the outside. The portrait subjects were classified in the manuscript as widows, wives and maidens. 

Hickson believes this may have been used in some kind of parlour game, where people might read the poem and guess who the woman was before lifting up the flap. “They were all women from important families in Milan”, she adds. “I think there may have been an element of control and possession there as well”. Women had an important role in the functioning of the court and the community, and would have been involved in the games and perhaps discussion about the women. 

Portable portrait galleries existed as well, even though this was long before the day of the iPhone. Hickson found that the Italian soldiers going to war in France brought with them picture books with portraits of the most beautiful and desirable French prostitutes. 

Hickson discovered these Renaissance approaches to social networking while studying ISABELLA D'ESTE, who was Vincenzo Gonzaga’s grandmother and a leading figure in the Italian Renaissance in her own right. Hickson says Isabella was a prolific letter-writer who communicated with women in other parts of Europe, sharing her recipes for perfumes and foods. Isabella was also a trend-setter. She designed a headdress that became a popular style; the artist Titian painted a portrait of her wearing it. 

Hickson’s research has centred on the small Italian town of Mantua, but she also visits regularly the cities of Venice, Florence and Milan ─ to embrace the culture, food and, of course, the work produced by some of the world’s most influential artists over centuries of time.