Gianfrancesco Gonzaga (1446–1496)
was Antico’s first patron. A younger son of the Marchese of Mantua, Ludovico Gonzaga, he inherited lands to the west and south of Mantua on his father’s death in 1478 and set up a small but elegant court at Bozzolo. The 1496 inventory produced at Gianfrancesco’s death is a key documentary source for Antico’s life and art.
Gianfrancesco Gonzaga di Ròdigo, c. 1486-1490, bronze, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Widener Collection
Antonia del Balzo (c. 1460–1538)
was the wife of Gianfrancesco Gonzaga. The daughter of a Neapolitan prince, she married Gianfrancesco in 1479, soon after he came into his inheritance. The first documentary reference for Antico is a 1487 letter from Antonia to the Marchese Francesco Gonzaga. After Gianfrancesco’s death Antonia moved to the newly built Gonzaga castle in Gazzuolo near Bozzolo, as did Antico.
Antonia del Balzo, 1479 [obverse], c. 1487, bronze, Widener 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
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
Federico Gonzaga (1500–1540)
became Marchese of Mantua after his father’s death in 1519, though his mother Isabella d’Este was regent for the first few years. Through skilled negotiations, in 1530 Federico was granted the title of duke of Mantua. Like Isabella, he fostered Antico’s career, rewarding him with grants of land and privileges.
Letter of Antico to Federico Gonzaga (salutation), June 1521, Archivio di Stato, Mantua