Giovanni Bellini

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Giovanni Bellini was a renowned and notable Venetian Painter, who ranks amongst the most influential artists of the Italian Renaissance. He received great fame and critical acclaim for his captivating and intensely creative altarpieces, portraits and landscapes and his unique ability to present a breath-taking interplay of natural light and color using oil paints with great expertise. He is best known for remarkable and imaginative works like ‘The Doge Leonardo Loredan’, ‘Feast of the Gods’ and the ‘San Giobbe Altarpiece’.

Giovanni Bellini was born in 1430, in the cosmopolitan city of Venice, Italy, He hailed from a family of influential painters, his father, Jacopo Bellini was one of the founders of Renaissance painting in Venice. From a very early age, Giovanni and his brother, Gentile were given training by their father. Giovanni’s art also became influenced by the painting style of Andrea Mantegna, who was also his brother-in-law.

Giovanni received most of his primarily training from his father, and some of his earliest works such as, ‘Dead Christ Supported by Two Angels’ and ‘Dead Christ Supported by Mary and Saint John Evangelista’, show the frequent use of tempera. He began to depict his subjects in a more detailed, intense and sculptural manner, which can be seen in his iconic, ‘Agony in the Garden’.

Towards his middle years, he began moving towards other subjects, and experimenting with different mediums. In 1474, notable Sicilian painter, Antonello da Messina, visited Venice just to see Giovanni’s work, and upon watching his use of tempera, he advised him to avoid the use of tempera in his paintings. Giovanni was greatly influenced by the great artist, and he abandoned the old fashioned use of tempera, and adopted the newly developed oil paints, which gave his paintings a more subtle, yet intensely and richly gradated effect. He began garnering immense success and critical acclaim, and soon commissions from the palaces and cathedrals of Venice began lining up at his doorstep.

In 1479, Giovanni was appointed as the conservator of the paintings in the Hall of the Great Council of the Doge’s Palace, a post that was previously occupied by his brother, Gentile. Unfortunately, most of Giovanni’s great works at the Palace were destroyed in a fire that erupted in the Palace in 1577.

During the last years of his career, Giovanni’s fame, popularity and influence was at its peak. He began to paint piece after piece from his intensely creative imagination, religious subjects, mythology and remarkably stunning altarpieces. Some of his best known works include, ‘Madonna of the Meadow’, ‘Young Woman Holding a Mirror’, ‘Agony in the Garden’, ‘Dead Christ Supported by Mary and Saint John Evangelista’, ‘Queen Caterina Cornaro’, ‘The Blood of the Redeemer’, ‘Coronation of the Virgin’, ‘Greek Madonna’, ‘Holy Allegory’, ‘Drunkenness of Noah’, ‘Madonna of the Small Trees’ and ‘The Feast of the Gods’ among many others.

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