Cornaro crest

Gentile Bellini

Born: 1429, Venice

Died: 23 February 1506/7, Venice

GENTILE BELLINI is often seen in the shadow of his father Jacopo Bellini (c. 1400-70), a Venetian pioneer in the use of oil paint as an artistic medium, his acclaimed brother Giovanni Bellini, and his brother-in-law Andrea Mantegna ("the most classical artist in all Italy," in the view of arts historian Paul Holberton).

Gentile's earliest signed work is The Blessed Lorenzo Giustinian (1445), one of the oldest surviving oil paintings in Venice, now at the Accademia Museum. He was also, with Lazzaro Bastiani, Vittore Carpaccio, Giovanni Mansueti and Benedetto Rusconi, one of the five artists of the 10-painting narrative cycle known as The Miracles of the Relic of the Cross, commissioned for the School of St. John the Evangelist to celebrate the relic of the Holy Cross which it had received in 1369. Gentile's contributions are Procession of the Relic in the Piazza (1496) and The Recovery of the Relic from the Canal of S. Lorenzo (1500), which depicts Queen Caterina Cornaro (B-31) in the far left. Gentile also portrayed Queen Caterina in a portrait now in the collection of the Szepmuveszeti Museum in Budapest.

The early art historian Giorgio Vasari reports that Gentile Bellini himself travelled, 1479, to Constantinople, where his skills were praised and richly rewarded by the Turkish ruler.

Holberton has commented that Gentile abandoned his father's linear mannerisms and improved his perspective.

1997-9 C. I. Gable