Antico, For the boy with the thorn [Spinario] we believe ourselves indebted not only to the most reverend monsignor our uncle [Ludovico Gonzaga], but also to you who have made it and therefore we thank you for it as much as we can. To demonstrate our gratitude, not as a prize, we send one of our velvet banded dresses so that you may present it to your wife, whom you have already told us that you love more than yourself. And being persuaded that you are still of the same opinion, we wish to bestow our favor on her before yourself, mindful that we have not found anything that is equal to your merit. With good wishes etcetera, Mantua, March 26, 1501
Authorization to reproduce number 37-2011.
Isabella d’Este (1474–1539)
became Antico’s principal patron after the death of her husband’s uncle, the bishop Ludovico Gonzaga, in 1511. The daughter of the Duke of Ferrara, Ercole d’Este, Isabella married the Marchese of Mantua, Francesco Gonzaga, in 1490. She became famous in her own time for her dynamic personality and cultural sophistication and was one of the few women to create a studiolo. Antico made bronzes that were preserved on cornices in her studiolo. After her husband’s death in 1519 Isabella became regent of Mantua for her son Federico Gonzaga.
Giancristoforo Romano, Isabella d’Este, after 1498, bronze, National Gallery of Art, Samuel H. Kress Collection
Spinario, model probably by 1496
cast c. 1499
bronze with silvering
Ludovico Gonzaga (1460–1511)
became Antico’s second patron after Ludovico’s brother Gianfrancesco died in 1496. Ludovico became bishop-elect of Mantua in 1484 but was never consecrated to that office. He lived instead in his territories outside Mantua, later moving to Antonia del Balzo’s castle at Gazzuolo. His correspondence provides much information on Antico’s work.
Letter of Ludovico Gonzaga (signature), 8 September 1503, Archivio di Stato, Mantua