The Gonzaga family had a continual interest in Raphael and tried several times to have his works in Mantua, as archival sources reveal. In 1511 they heard that Raphael intended to portray the young Federico II, taken hostage by the Pope. In 1515 Isabella d’Este asked Raphael for a painting through Baldassarre Castiglione, without success. The interest extended to different kinds of works by the artist, such as a drawing representing the elephant Annone (1516) and a design for the funeral monument of Francesco II (1519).
Mantua was well informed also about the most important works by Raphael in Rome, such as the decoration of the Stanze Vaticane in 1511 or Villa Madama in 1519. The death of the artist was announced on 7th April 1520 by Pandolfo Pico to Isabella, describing the tragic event that had happened the day before, and comparing it to Christ’s death.