Andrea Mantegna rose to fame at the Renaissance court of Isabella d’Este. Antiquity fueled both their imaginations, and he gave form to her humanist ideas with his brush, reinterpreting standard Christian subjects in new ways. Mantegna signed this devotional painting for either Isabella d’Este herself, or an equally esteemed patron.
Gardner fashioned herself as a latter-day Isabella d’Este. A painting by her idol’s court artist lent this historical fiction new meaning.