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I tondi di Sant’Andrea  (Saint Andrew’s rounds)

The Saint Andrew basilica, designed by Leon Battista Alberti in 1472, was first decorated with these frescoes and their sinopias, detached, after the middle of the last century, from the front tympanum (the smaller fragment placed on the wall with a window) and from the atrium because of conservation reasons. They are thematically linked to the Jesus’ Precious Blood relic, to guard and honor the basilica. The authors, two of the greatest artists of the Renaissance, are Andrea Mantegna and Correggio. The first one worked with his workshop, around 1488, to realize the figures of the tympanum and the Jesus’ Ascension into heaven, but also, on the sides and above the central portal, other sacred characters (today they are lost); Correggio later attended, probably near 1511 or 1512.

The largest one of the three rounds of the atrium, which remains on site only the cornices, was located above the portal mentioned; it depicts the Ascension: during this feast the relic was then exposed and carried in procession (currently this happens on Good Friday). The subject of the other two rounds, placed perpendicularly to the first, completes it with the Holy Family and the Deposition in the tomb: the three rounds referred to the essential moments of Jesus’ earthly life: his birth, his death and his resurrection.

The face of the St. Andrew’ Basilica

ANDREA  MANTEGNA (1431-1506) and his collaborators

Sant’Andrea col reliquiario (Saint Andrew with the reliquary)

Ripped fresco. Inv. 10

This is what remains of the round face, which is known it also included the illustration of San Longino. According to the tradition of the Precious Blood, Longino is the soldier who brought the relic to Mantua, while the Apostle Andrew (that’s why it’s called St. Andrew Basilica) is the apostle who allowed the relic to be found.

Ascensione di Gesù al Cielo (Jesus Ascension to Heaven)

Ripped Sinopia. Inv. 7

The sinopia is accosted to the Correggio’s one, to underline the two artists’ different style: the first is meticulous and calligraphic, the second is synthesized, with large strokes.

Ascensione di Gesù al Cielo (Jesus Ascension to Heaven)

Ripped fresco. Inv. 5

The scene is set according to the tradition: Jesus shows himself rising to heaven, surrounded by angels arranged in the shape of an almond. In Christian painting the almond, because of its almost impenetrable shell, was symbolically used to enclose the image of God.


ANTONIO  ALLEGRI named Correggio  (1489-1534)

Holy Family

Ripped fresco. Inv. 4

In this fresco are depicted Saint Elizabeth and her son John, the future Baptist (with Mary, Jesus and Joseph), here with the ribbon that anticipates his announcement, so that it shows who the other Child is: Ecce Agnus Dei, “Behold the Lamb of God (who takes away the sin of the world)”.

Deposizione di Gesù nel sepolcro

Sinopia strappata. Inv. 8

Il tondo mostra, nella parte superiore, i resti di un precedente affresco, nei quali pare di poter riconoscere la testa del Cristo tra quelle di Maria e di Giovanni.

Deposizione di Gesù nel sepolcro

Affresco strappato. Inv. 6

Colpisce nell’affresco l’audace posa del Cristo, che ricorda in qualche modo il celebre Cristo morto di Mantegna. Tra le figure circostanti spiccano quella dolente di Maria e quella disperata della Maddalena.


L’articolo I tondi di Sant’Andrea sembra essere il primo su Museo Francesco Gonzaga.

I tondi di Sant’Andrea
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