The most famous among the houses lived in by Mantegna, it was built in 1476. The date October 18th 1476 is still visible in the corner marble slab on the left-hand side of the façade. Ludovico Gonzaga gave him the land, as that was the easiest way for him to pay for the Painter’s services.
Mantegna himself projected his house but it took him twenty years to finish it and unfortunately soon after that, in 1502, he was forced to sell it to Francesco Gonzaga as part of a business exchange. The structure of the house is very peculiar: a cubic building with a cylindrical courtyard at the center.
This may recall the structure of a Roman domus with the rooms opening onto the courtyard, but it also seems to recall the typology of the buildings suggested by Leon Battista Alberti, with the symbolic use of the square and the circle, besides already experimented by Mantegna in The Oculus of the Bridal Chamber in St. George’s Castle. In the rooms opening onto the round courtyard are still visible traces of decorations along with the emblem of Marquis Ludovico II. The courtyard was probably covered by a little dome, now lost.