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Bellini (bĕl-lēˈnē), illustrious family of Venetian painters of the Renaissance. Jacopo Bellini (yäˈkōpō), c.1400–1470, was a pupil of Gentile da Fabriano. He worked in Padua, Verona, Ferrara, and Venice. Many of his greatest paintings, including the enormous Crucifixion for the Cathedral of Verona, have disappeared. Several of his Madonnas (Uffizi; Louvre; Academy, Venice) are still extant. Jacopo's sketches in two notebooks (Louvre and British Mus.) are his most important legacy. They reveal a variety of interests, including problems of perspective, landscapes, and antiquity.
His son Gentile Bellini (jāntēˈlā), 1429–1507, studied with him and with Mantegna, working in Padua and then in Venice. He excelled in portraiture and in depicting ceremonial processions. His paintings, such as The Procession in the Piazza of San Marco and The Miracle of the True Cross (both: Academy, Venice), are valued for their faithful representation of contemporary Venetian life. In 1479 Gentile was sent by the state to the court of Muhammad II in Constantinople. Subsequently a Middle Eastern flavor appeared in several of his paintings, including the portrait of Muhammad II (National Gall., London); the portrait of a Turkish artist (Gardner Mus., Boston); and St. Mark Preaching at Alexandria (Brera, Milan).
The last was completed by his brother, Giovanni Bellini (jōvänˈnē), c.1430–1516, who was first active in Padua where he worked with his father and brother. Also influenced by Mantegna, who became his brother-in-law in 1454, Giovanni painted the Agony in the Garden (National Gall., London), the Crucifixion (Correo Mus., Venice), and several Madonnas (Philadelphia Mus. and Metropolitan Mus.). Whereas Mantegna and Jacopo and Gentile Bellini were known chiefly as admirable draftsmen, Giovanni developed another style. His sumptuous coloring and fluent, atmospheric landscapes had a great effect upon Venetian painting, especially upon his pupils Giorgione and Titian. He created several imposing altarpieces; best known are those of the Frari and San Zaccaria in Venice and the St. Job (now in the Academy, Venice). Other examples of his art are several fine portraits such as the Doge Loredano (National Gall., London). He painted St. Francis in the Desert (Frick Coll., New York City) and St. Jerome (National Gall. of Art, Washington, D.C.), as well as some allegorical fantasies such as the Restello series (Academy, Venice). He also created mythological scenes, including The Myth of Orpheus and The Feast of the Gods (both: National Gall. of Art, Washington, D.C.). The zestful Feast, one of his last pictures, was painted in 1514 for Isabella d'Este, with finishing touches added by Titian.
See G. Robertson, Giovanni Bellini (1968); H. Tietze, The Drawings of the Venetian Painters (1944, repr. 1970).
a family of Italian painters who were the founders of Renaissance art in Venice. The head of the family, Jacopo Bellini (c. 1400–70 or 71), painted softly lyrical pictures which in many ways retained their ties with Gothic traditions (Madonna and Child, 1448, Pinacoteca de Brera, Milan). The full, lively detail in the drawings of Jacopo Bellini (sketches of monuments of antiquity, architectural fantasies, and scenes of many figures in albums of drawings—at the British Museum in London and the Louvre in Paris) show an interest in the problem of perspective and reflect the influence of Andrea Mantegna and Paolo Uccello.
The birth of Venetian genre-historical painting is linked to Gentile Bellini (born about 1429; died Feb. 23,1507), the son of Jacopo Bellini. His detailed compositions of many figures, with spare, careful strokes and light, festive coloring, vividly relate the street life of Venice (Procession on Piazza San Marco, 1496, and Miracle of the Holy Cross, 1500, both in the Gallerie dell’ Accademia in Venice). In his portraits, Gentile Bellini depicts his models with meticulous accuracy.
The second son of Jacopo, Giovanni Bellini (born about 1430; died Nov. 29, 1516), was a major Quattrocento Venetian master. His work laid the foundations of High Renaissance art in Venice. The early works of Giovanni Bellini, influenced by Mantegna, were dramatically sharp and cold in color (the Piet à , about 1470, Pinacoteca de Brera, Milan). However, at the end of the 1470’s, under the influence of Piero della Francesca and Antonello da Messina, his works became harmoniously clear, life-asserting masterpieces in which the noble human images are in tune with the broad, inspired landscape (The Transfiguration, 1480–85, Museo e Gallerie Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples; Allegory, also called Madonna of the Lake, 1490’s, Uffizi Gallery, Florence; and Feast of the Gods, 1514, National Gallery, Washington). In these works the soft harmony of sonorous colors, which look as if they were saturated with sunshine, and the fine gradations of light and shade create a feeling of airiness. The many Madonnas of Giovanni Bellini (for example, the Madonna of the Trees, 1487, Gallerie dell’ Accademia, Venice, and Madonna, 1488, Galleria dell’ Accademia Carrara, Bergamo) give an impression of solemn repose or lyrically intimate contemplation. The work of Giovanni Bellini embodies classically organized Renaissance composition in altarpieces (Madonna Enthroned and Surrounded by Saints, 1505, the Church of San Zacearia, Venice) and a full interest in the bright personal characteristics of humanistic portraits (portrait of the doge L. Loredan, about 1502, National Gallery, London). Giovanni Bellini’s achievements influenced the work of his pupils Giorgione and Titian.
REFERENCESGrashchenkov, V. N. “Portrety Dzhovanni Bellini.” In the collection Ot epokhi Vozrozhdeniia k dvadtsatomu veku. Moscow, 1963.
Gronau, G. Die Künstlerfamilie Bellini. Bielefeld-Leipzig, 1909.
Pallucchini, R. Giovanni Bellini. Milan, 1959.
Bottari, S. Tutta la pittura di Giovanni Bellini, vols. 1–2. Milan, 1963.