Art: A Genius Obsessed By Stone

Taking classical sculpture as his model, Mantegna populated the new world of the Renaissance

Andrea Mantegna has never been easy to approach, alive or dead. The "rock- born giant," as Bernard Berenson called him, with his dedication to archaeology and his obsession with empirical vision, was one of the quintessential artists of the early Italian Renaissance. He was innovative, flinty and tough-minded, without an iota of sentiment.

This son of a Paduan carpenter, who rose to become the cynosure of every humanist eye in northern Italy, once sent a gang of thugs to bash up a printer who fell foul of him, and then had the poor man denounced for sodomy -- a crime that,...

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