Most reverend Monsignor, Antico and your most reverend lordship have better understood our idea, natural for yourselves, than it was explained by Cesare Gonzaga, to whom I expressed it: that is, that I would like a small bronze figure of the size of the boy with the thorn [Spinario] and not one just like it. Which [figure] I would like to put on a door frame opposite the boy [the Spinario] to give symmetry, since the doors are of the same size. Therefore I pray that your lordship will have it made as soon as possible, leaving the choice of the figure to Antico’s judgment, for which I will be very grateful to you. And I recommend myself to you, from my heart. Mantua, January 29, 1503
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
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
Spinario, model probably by 1496
cast c. 1499
bronze with silvering