Madonna of the Small Trees Giovanni Bellini Buy Art Prints Now
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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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Madonna degli Alberetti, (Italian for Madonna of the Small Trees) is one of the most prolific paintings from Giovanni Bellini.

It was done in 1487 when renaissance was the inspiration of many artists. Coming from an artistic family, Bellini took cognisance of events and times which informed most of his paintings. This particular painting was a representation of Jesus Christ and his mother Mary, standing on a slab.

This painting was done on a panel and painted by oil. A panel is a piece or pieces of wood joined together to form a surface. This was common before canvas was discovered. The original painting measured 74 centimetres by 58 centimetres in length and width respectively. The background shows a curtain and behind it, the serene environment with trees on each side, a blue sky and a mountain. The background depicts a quiet and absorbable environment, typical of the Venetian skyline. With Jesus Christ and his mother as the focus of the art, it gives the painting a religious connotation.

Most of Bellini's works were commissioned by rulers of Venice, including the Madonna of the Small Trees. The painting is currently housed at the Gallerie dell'Accademia (Academy Galleries). At the time of this artwork, Italy was experiencing a shift from the Early Renaissance (1400 – 1495) to the high Renaissance (1495 – 1520). This was characterised with cooperation amongst artist and shared out their techniques to form an identical brand amongst Italian painters.

The design and inspiration of these works came in tandem with other works during the same period. It is around this time that Bellini completed the Transfiguration of Christ (1487), St Francis in Ecstasy (1480-5) and Pieta (1505). Also, most of his peers in the profession did paintings based on religious inspirations. Among them were Annunciation with Saint Emidius (1486), Madonna (1489), Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints (1488) all by Carlo Crivelli. Andrea Mantegna did the Madonna of the cave (1489) and Virgin and Child with St. John the Baptist, St. Zachary and St. Elizabeth (1490)