Italian paintings

Virgin and Child

Giovanni Bellini
Venice, 1430 - Venice, 1506

1510, oil on wood, 131 x 103 cm
Italian Museum – Venetian Gallery

When she bought this Virgin with the child on a throne, Nélie Jacquemart did not know who the painter was. The work was damaged and the glaze had disappeared. It was only with the restoration of the work that historians agreed and attributed it to Giovanni Bellini. It is certainly one of the last paintings created by the great Venetian painter at the very beginning of the 16th century, which demonstrates its rarity. This painting’s modernity amazes viewers.

This composition is very structured: the Virgin is sitting on a monumental throne, behind which is suspended a cloth. She is installed on a terrace with a balustrade, overlooking a landscape unfurled in the background. These different planes create an impression of depth. Moreover, the verticality of the throne and the horizontal plane of the cloth form a sort of cross, a bit stiff but softened by the figure of the Virgin extended by the long dark, flowing cloak. This masterful presentation demonstrates all of Bellini’s genius.

The pictorial surface has suffered from excessive cleaning: there are areas of wear in the sky and the landscape, as well as in the red dress which has lost the glaze that shaped it. But remarkable parts are perfectly preserved, such as the flesh and the white veil.

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