Art e Dossier

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Art History

Giovanni Bellini: biography

Son of Jacopo and brother of Gentile, both Venetian painters, Giovanni’s early works reveal that he was trained in his father’s atelier, and also that he independently studied the works of Alvise Vivarini. His sister, Nicolosia, was married to Andrea Mantegna in 1453. Although Bellini was strongly influenced by Mantegna, he diluted the severe manner of drawing with his own personal style. Bellini’s studies, first of all, focused on light as we can in the Agony in the Garden (National Gallery, London), the San Vincenzo Ferrer Polyptych in the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice, and in the Brera Pietà (1465 circa). The works from the eighth decade include the Pesaro Altarpiece (1472-1474) that used to be in the church of San Francesco in Pesaro, a grandiose painting with a clear spatial arrangement which reveals a knowledge of Flemish painting techniques and the teachings of Piero Della Francesca. In 1479 he replaced his brother Gentile who was working on the Hall of the Great Council in Venice and in 1483 he was appointed the official painter of the Venetian Republic. The San Giobbe Altarpiece, the Barbarigo Altarpiece (church of San Pietro Martire, Murano) and the Frari Triptych date from the middle of his artistic career and they all combine a noble grandiosity of the image with a constant psychological characterization of the figures. In those years the artist directed a flourishing atelier that produced countless variations on the religious theme of the Virgin and Child against a background of delicate landscapes. Bellini’s Sacred Allegory (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence) is generally dated around the end of the fifteenth century. At the beginning of the new century he was a careful observer of the innovations brought to Venetian artistic circles by the new generation of painters from Sebastiano del Piombo to Titian, from Giorgione to Lotto. The results of his receptiveness can be seen in the San Zaccaria Altarpiece (1505), in the San Giovanni Crisostomo Altarpiece as well as in the secular paintings such as the Feast of the Gods (1514, National Gallery, Washington, D.C.) that he did for Alfonso d’Este, Duke of Ferrara.

The works