Giovanni Bellini | National Humanities Center

Work of the Fellows: Biographies; Monographs

Giovanni Bellini

By Rona Goffen (NHC Fellow, 1986–87)

Art Criticism; Art History; Artists; Italian Renaissance; Painting; Humanism; Giovanni Bellini

New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989

From the publisher’s description:

Giovanni Bellini, a master of the Venetian school of painting, is one of the most important figures in Italian Renaissance art. This lavishly illustrated book is the first major study to consider the artist’s work both stylistically and in its full cultural and historical context. Born in the early 1430’s, Bellini was actively involved in painting for close to seventy years, until his death in 1516. The history of Bellini’s career is tantamount to a history of the greatest Venetian art in those years, encompassing a development from the traditional International Style of Bellini’s father, Jacopo, to the revolutionary works of his followers, Giorgione and Titian. Within this framework, Bellini’s paintings occupy a special place, both for their beauty and for their innovation. Rona Goffen, an internationally known authority on Bellini, begins her book with a discussion of the artist’s early development. In the two major divisions of the book that follow, she treats his sacred art (images for private devotion, Madonnas, and altar pieces) and his secular art (portraits of private and public figures, allegories, and mythological paintings). Goffen argues that the style and iconography of Bellini’s oeuvre and the relation of his work to that of his chief contemporaries and his great successors can best be understood in connection with the whole of Venetian Renaissance civilization. Thus her consideration of his work is set in the context of Venetian humanism and spirituality, with particular reference to the social and political interests of the republic and its long-standing ties with Byzantium. The book includes a thorough chronology of Bellini’s career and works, as well as checklists of both undisputed and problematic attributions.

Art / History / Art Criticism / Art History / Artists / Italian Renaissance / Painting / Humanism / Giovanni Bellini /

Goffen, Rona (NHC Fellow, 1986–87). Giovanni Bellini. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989.