In superintending the distribution of the Mantuan territory amongst the veterans, he used his influence to save from confiscation the property of the poet Virgil.
The Marquis Lodovico Gonzaga of Mantua had for some time been pressing Mantegna to enter his service; and the following year, 1460, was perhaps the one in which he actually established himself at the Mantuan court, residing at first from time to time at Goito, but, from December 1466 onwards, with his family in Mantua itself.
Some of his early Mantuan works are in that apartment of the Castello which is termed the Camera degli Sposi - full compositions in fresco, including various portraits of the Gonzaga family, and some figures of genii, &c. In 1488 he went to Rome at the request of Pope Innocent VIII., to paint the frescoes in the chapel of the Belvedere in the Vatican; the marquis of Mantua (Federigo) created him a cavaliere before his departure.
The pope treated Mantegna with less liberality than he had been used to at the Mantuan court; but on the whole their connexion, which ceased in 1490, was not unsatisfactory to either party.
They were sold in 1628 along with the bulk of the Mantuan art treasures, and were not, as is commonly said, plundered in the sack of Mantua in 1630.