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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Giovanni Bellini was a highly significant artist during the 15th and 16th centuries, leaving a substantial legacy through his extensive ouevre and some famous artists who came under his tutorship

This Italian starred in the very early developments of the Renaissance, born several years before the artistic heavyweights of Sandro Botticelli, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. Whilst lacking the latter two's versatility and desire to address different mediums, he was first and foremost, a highly skilled painter.

The Renaissance was a monumental art movement which also impacted architecture, literature and progressed in several phases. Bellini himself would build his reputation in Venice, the city of his birth. This beautiful city has attracted famous artists from all across the world to depict its stunning architecture, but the location has also contributed several famous homegrown names to the art world itself.

Art historians consider his work, along with others in Venice during this time, to be responsible for the inception of the Venetian school of painting. The impact of this region on the development of the Renaissance cannot be overstated. Bellini would use oil paint, an import from the Dutch art scene, which marked a movement away from egg tempera that had previously dominated.

Bellini quickly discovered the advantages of oil paint in producing exceptional colour. These achievements would then inspire the likes of Titian, Paolo Veronese and Tintoretto who each also were respected for the use of colour in their paintings. It was the shear vibrancy of colour that promised to move at on from the Middle Ages, injecting new life into European art. His work would contribute significantly to the rise of oils and replacement of egg tempera as the preferred tool of choice for the finest European painters.

Art would be a family business on some occasions in the early periods of the Renaissance. Society was far from being upwardly mobile at this time, with most people forced to labour hard for a living and have little chance of even attempting to discover their talents in creative disciplines. We are all aware of the Bruegels and the Carraccis, but the Bellini family also had several notable artists. Furthermore the likes of Diego Velazquez would later be tutored initially by their artist fathers.