Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506), together with his brother-in-law Giovanni Bellini, was largely responsible for spreading the ideas of the Early Renaissance in northern Italy. In 1460, Mantegna became court painter to the Gonzaga family in Mantua. After that he only left Mantua for occasional trips to Tuscany and Rome. In about 1490, Mantegna began to produce engravings of great artistic and technical perfection, which contributed greatly to the dissemination of the Early Renaissance innovations north of the Alps.
Andrea Mantegna's composition of figures and objects compressed within a shallow space was based on his study of ancient Roman reliefs. He used a neutral background and sharply defined details to focus the viewer's attention on the kings' adoration of Christ. Mantegna died in Mantua, on September 13, 1506. In 1516 a handsome monument was set up to him by his sons in the church of Sant'Andrea, where he had painted the altar-piece of the mortuary chapel. The dome is decorated by Correggio.
In 1985, the Adoration -painted between 1495 and 1505- part of the collection of the Marquess of Northampton was one of the last paintings by Mantegna in private hands. It is rather small (21.5 x 27.5 ins) and was painted in tempera and oil linen laid down on a canvas. It was bought for $10.4 million by the P.Getty Museum of Malibu, Calif.