Detail of Madonna della Vittoria by Andrea Mantegna, 1496
Francesco Gonzaga, who is kneeling and has a grateful and smiling expression while receiving the blessing of Jesus and Mary.

Photo by Sailko
Artist: Andrea Mantegna (1431–1506)
Title: Madonna of Victory
Date: 1496
Medium: tempera on canvas
Dimensions: Height: 280 cm (110.2 in). Width: 166 cm (65.4 in).
Current location: Louvre Museum

On 6 July 1495 the French army of Charles VIII of France, retreating from Italy after the French Invasion of 1494-1498, fought the Italic League at the Battle of Fornovo. The League, commanded by Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua, was made up of numerous nation-states determined to prevent French dominance in Italy, and included the Holy Roman Empire, Spain, Venice, Milan, and the Papal States controlled by Pope Alexander VI. Though the League lost more soldiers, they had also captured more soldiers than had the French; they also recovered nearly all of the plunder the French had taken over the course of their four-year invasion. Particularly valued items included the helmet, sword, and seal of Charles VIII, as well as a book containing portraits of the ladies whose favors he had enjoyed during the invasion. During Francesco's absence from Mantua, Daniele da Norsa, a Jewish banker, had purchased a house in the city's San Simone quarter and replaced the image of the Virgin Mary which decorated its façade with his own coat of arms. The regent, Sigismondo Gonzaga, ordered him to restore the depiction. Although Daniele agreed to do so, the populace, inflamed by anti-semitic feeling, destroyed his house. When Francesco returned, he forced Daniele to fund a chapel and a devotional painting. The painting was to be executed by the Mantuan court painter, Mantegna, and was inaugurated in 1496 on the anniversary of the duke's victory at Fornovo. The work was placed in the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, which had been constructed over the ruins of Daniele da Norsa's house.

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