Giovanni Bellini

One of the greatest Renaissance painters, Giovanni Bellini was born in 1430 and spent his life in Venice, dying there in 1516. The son of painter Jacopo, he belonged to the most important artistic dynasty in Venice, along with his brother Gentile. He was also related by marriage to Andrea Mantegna. Bellini’s work combines Piero della Francesca’s metaphysical modelling, Antonello da Messino’s realism and the colouristic depth of Venetian artists, and opened the way for so-called tonalism. He also assmilated elements of the late Gothic style prevalent in Venetian painting of the time and Mantegna’s Renaissance treatment of space. The results were decisively original, establishing a foundation for sixteenth-century Venetian painting, which was taken forward by Giorgione and Titian: large canvases in which space is rendered through colour and light, without resorting to architectural perspectives or Leonardo’s sfumato technique. It was probably Venice, the city immersed in water, that inspired this approach. Among Bellini’s most important works are: the Presentation in the Temple (1460) at the Fondazione Querini Stampalia in Venice; the San Zaccaria atlarpiece (1505) at the Church of San Zaccaria in Venice; and the Pietà (1465-1470) at the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan.

Head of Christ and scroll fragments of a Transfiguration – Slip of the Tongue