Room 62

Venice and the Veneto 1450-1500

Venice during the 15th century was a great trading republic. Paintings by the city’s official painter, Gentile Bellini, reveal its connections with Byzantium and the Ottoman Empire. Links with the Netherlands also profoundly affected the appearance of Venetian painting. Antonello da Messina had learned Netherlandish oil painting techniques in his native Sicily but, in 1475–6, on seeing the many pictures imported by Venetians from the Netherlands, he was further encouraged to emulate their detailed naturalism and, especially, the bold characterisation and commanding presence of the portraits. Antonello’s example helped inspire a Venetian vogue for portraiture, climaxing with Giovanni Bellini’s masterpiece – his portrait of Doge Loredan.

Other influences are evident in Bellini’s work. His first linear style was strongly affected by the paintings of his brother-in-law Andrea Mantegna, but he developed a different approach to the setting of figures in landscape. He achieved a complete integration; the shapes of figures and landscape features reflect one another and both are bathed in radiant light.

Paintings in this room

Antonello da Messina: 'Christ Blessing'
Christ Blessing
Antonello da Messina
Antonello da Messina: 'Christ Crucified'
Christ Crucified
Antonello da Messina
Antonello da Messina: 'Portrait of a Man'
Portrait of a Man
Antonello da Messina
Antonello da Messina: 'Saint Jerome in his Study'
Saint Jerome in his Study
Antonello da Messina
Giovanni Bellini: 'The Doge Leonardo Loredan'
Doge Leonardo Loredan
Giovanni Bellini
Giovanni Bellini: 'The Agony in the Garden'
The Agony in the Garden
Giovanni Bellini
Francesco Bonsignori: 'Portrait of an Elderly Man'
Portrait of an Elderly Man
Francesco Bonsignori
Italian Venetian Christ carrying the Cross
Christ carrying the Cross
Italian, Venetian
Alvise Vivarini: 'Portrait of a Man'
Portrait of a Man
Alvise Vivarini
Virgin and Child
Alvise Vivarini