Giovanni Bellini (Italian, Venice, active by 1459–died 1516 Venice)
Tempera, oil, and gold on wood
21 1/4 x 15 3/4 in. (54 x 40 cm) (31 x 26 inches framed)
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Not on view
This early work by the Venetian painter, Giovanni Bellini, reveals the profound influence of his brother-in-law, the Paduan master Andrea Mantegna, both in the figure types and the inclusion of the garland. The treatment of the landscape and the use of the oil medium, with which Giovanni may have been experimenting since the 1460s, were likely inspired by Netherlandish painting. Bellini creates a dramatic connection between the worshipper and subject through the Virgin’s left hand, extending across the parapet, and her fingertip, which reaches into the viewer’s space. The gourds in the garland and at the left of the parapet symbolize the Resurrection; the fruit at right might be a cherry, signifying the Eucharist, or an apple, evoking the Fall.
Principe Potenziani, Villa San Mauro, Rieti (1911); Luigi Grassi, Florence. Acquired by Philip Lehman in Italy in or before June 1916.