Jacopo Bellini (1396 – 1470)

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Madonna and Child

Jacopo Bellini was an Italian painter. Jacopo was one of the founders of the Renaissance style of painting in Venice and northern Italy. His sons Gentile and Giovanni Bellini, and his son-in-law Andrea Mantegna, were also famous painters.

Nativity 1440s

Born in Venice, Jacopo had been a pupil of Gentile da Fabriano. In 1411-1412 he was in Foligno, where with Gentile he worked at the Palazzo Trinci frescoes. In 1423 Bellini was in Florence, where he knew the new works by Brunelleschi, Donatello and Masaccio. In 1424 he opened a workshop in Venice, which he ran right up until his death.

Dormition of the Virgin 1450s

Many of his greatest works, including the enormous Crucifixion in the cathedral of Verona (1436), have disappeared. From c. 1430 is the panel with Madonna and Child, in the Accademia Carrara, once attributed to Gentile da Fabriano. In 1441, at Ferrara, where he was at the service of Leonello d’Este together with Leon Battista Alberti, he executed a portrait of that Marquess, now lost. Of this period the Madonna dell’Umiltà, probably commissioned by one of the brothers of Leonello.

Madonna with Child Adored

The influence from Masolino da Panicale towards more modern, early Renaissance themes is visible in the Madonna with Child (dated 1448) in the Pinacoteca di Brera: for the first time, perspective is present and the figure are more monumental. Later he contributed with works now lost to the Venetian churches of San Giovanni Evangelista (1452) and St. Mark (1466). From 1459 is a Madonna with Blessing Child in the Gallerie dell’Accademia.

Madonna with Child

Later he sojourned in Padua, where he trained in perspective and classicist themes a young Andrea Mantegna and where, in 1460, he finished a lost portrait of Erasmo Gattamelata, now lost. Of his late phase, a ruined Crucifix in the Museum of Verona and an Annunciation in Sant’Alessandro of Brescia remain.

Annunciation 1444

Few of his paintings still exist, but his surviving sketch-books (one in the British Museum and one in the Louvre) show an interest in landscape and elaborate architectural design and are his most important legacy. His surviving works show how he accommodated linear perspective to the decorative patterns and rich colors of Venetian painting school.

Lamentation, from sketchbook, 1440’s

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