Giovanni Bellini was an Italian painter from the Renaissance, probably the most famous painter from the artistic Bellini family. Especially crucial for his creativity and experimentation on coloristic styles, shaking the very foundation of painting paradigms at the time.
Giovanni Bellini was born circa 1430 in Venice, Italy. He was born into a family already famous for its artistic tradition since his father was Jacopo Bellini, a distinguished Venetian painter and one of the founders of the Renaissance style in north Italy. Bellini would become the most famous artist member of the Bellini family, his brother-in-law Andrea Mantegna and his brother Gentile Bellini were also artists and who Giovanni maintained a close relationship.
Bellini would grow up and live in his father’s house until his adulthood, always maintaining a very close fraternal as well as a professional relationship with his brother Gentile. His early paintings were all made in egg tempera, most compositions show and intense colors and a soft a delicate effect of sunrise, as in St. Jerome in the Desert. Though it dates around the same time Dead Christ Supported by the Madonna and St. John, or Pietá, is possible to notice Bellini’s more sober approach, regarding the softer contours, broader treatment of draperies and forms, and subtle coloring, leading to a less force of religious feeling and a more down-to-earth, humane composition. Scholars often link Bellini’s artwork to those of his brother-in-law Andrea Mantegna. Both stylistically and compositionally, especially during his early production.
By 40 years old Bellini received his first appointment to work in the Scuola di San Marco, along with his brother and other artists. Among these commissions, there was Deluge with Noah’s Ark. Sadly, none of Bellini’s work of this kind survived, whether made for the several schools and confraternities as well as for the ducal palace. The Transfiguration of Christ can exemplify his style from around 1470 forward. Due to his reputation, Giovanni started to gain commissions, once monopolized by the school of the Vivarinis, a Venetian rival school. Most of Giovanni’s public works of the period, as well as his brother Gentile’s, are now lost.
In 1514, Bellini undertook the commission to paint The Feast of the Gods for the Duke of Ferrara Alfonso I; however, the artist died two years later, leaving the painting unfinished. This artwork was finished by Dosso Dossi and the famous Titian, his former pupil.
Giovanni Bellini died in November 1516 and was buried at the Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo.
A curious fact, the Bellini cocktail was named in his honor.