Giovanni Bellini was born in the beautiful city of Venice in around 1430 to father Jacopo who himself was an artist of a moderate level. Jacopo quickly introduced to the artistic world and taught him about the Florentine Renaissance, hoping it might inspire his son to follow in his footsteps.
Giovanni was joined by siblings Gentile and Niccolosa, with his sister later marrying another notable artist, Andrea Mantegna in 1453. Jacopo brought his two sons into his workshop as assistants and it was from here that they would start to build an interest in their father's work as well as displaying early signs of promise.
The first twenty years of his career were devoted to religious scenes, capturing multiple versions of Madonnas, Pietàs and Crucifixions before starting to branch out into other genres. Typically, as artists gain experience and confidence their oeuvre will inevitably start to expand. It was also perhaps the starting point of Giovanni coming out from the shadow of his father and forging his own independant path.
One significant development was in Bellini's landscape painting, where his handling of light was exquisite. The season and even time of the day can be deduced from his landscape work, such was the accuracy of his lighting and its impact of the elements of each scene. As found in our quotes section, Albrecht Durer once described him as "the best painter of them all."
It was not too long before Bellini had set up a large studio from where his assistants could aid him in completing some of his larger commissions whilst also picking up technical skills themselves. The two greatest names to come from here were Titian and Giorgione, the latter actually passing away before his master. They would promote the achievements of Bellini whilst also adding an extra layer of their own creativity on top.