Chiesa di Santa Maria della Vittoria

Bernardino Ghisolfo was assigned responsibility for the project.
At that time he was responsible for the Gonzaga family buildings.
The simple façade of the church, in late Gothic style, overlooks Piazzetta San Simone.
It has a terracotta frieze running below the cornice on the visible sides of the building.
The internal decoration is Renaissance in style - evidently influenced by Mantegna.
In fact, a close connection with the ideas of Andrea Mantegna, with his taste for classic antiquity and for Roman marble, can be found in the illusive effect of the paintings that characterise the entire nave of the church.
The wall opposite the entrance still has a refined fake Cordoba leather tapestry, and it is against this that Mantegna's altarpiece of the Madonna della Vittoria was raised.
The work, commissioned to Andrea Mantegna by Francesco II, was started in 1495 and ended in 1496, just as the church would house it, and with the same reason.
It is a triumphant composition, to celebrate the victory and salvation of the Marquis, inserted in a luxurious pergola of flowers, fruit, birds, and precious stones, with a brilliant chromatic effect.
The Madonna and Child on Throne is depicted as she blesses Francesco II, while the warrior kneels down, asking for protection.
All around them are sacred characters: Saint Michael, Saint George, Saint Andrew, Saint Longinus, and, at the Virgin's feet, Saint Elisabeth and little Saint John.
On the marble base of the throne, one can see the entire sequence depicting the creation of man, the original sin, and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden.
This large (280 x 160 cm), beautiful altarpiece, tempera on canvas, was taken to France in 1797, and is currently kept at the Louvre.
A life-size photographic copy is shown.
Towards the end of the Eighteenth century, the church was deconsecrated and later became a warehouse for the Italian Military Engineers, who divided the interior into two parts by means of a wooden ceiling with shelves, which is still in place.
From 1899, the upper floor became the location of the Strozzi Valenti Gonzaga preschool.
On the lower floor, after various other purposes, between 1942 and 1986 the space was used for the Staboli painting workshop.
In 2001 the church was entrusted by the Municipality of Mantua to the Associazione Amici di Palazzo Te e dei Musei Mantovani [Association of Friends of Palazzo Te and the Museums of Mantua], who have taken on the burden of refurbishing and recovering the building.
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