Andrea Mantegna’s portrait, “Portrait of Cardinal Carlo De’ Medici,” is a tempera on wood painting created in approximately 1466. The artwork depicts a head-and-shoulders portrait of Carlo de’ Medici, an illegitimate son of Cosimo de’ Medici the Elder and a Circassian concubine. In the painting, Carlo is shown wearing the clerical garb of a protonotary apostolic.
The artwork measures 30 x 41 cm and is housed in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. Little is known about the painting’s origins or why Mantegna chose to depict Carlo de’ Medici. However, it’s believed that this portrait served as a tribute to Carlo’s significant contributions to his uncle Pope Sixtus IV’s administration during his papacy.
Mantegna was known for his exceptional attention to detail and realism in portraiture, which he infuses into this piece through multiple features such as texture-rich hair and meticulously detailed clothing folds. What remains with contemporary critics today are these details–as well as how well preserved they remain after centuries–making it easy to appreciate Mantegna’s mastery of form and lighting when analyzing “Portrait Of Cardinal Carlo De’ Medici.”