Giovanni Bellini was initially taught by his father Jacopo Bellini whose icon-like method and manner influenced his early work. When Giovanni’s sister Nicosia married Andrea Mantegna in 1453, close relations between Venice and Padua were established, and Giovanni began to explore the physical and special representation of the Early Renaissance. Under Mantegna’s influence his style assumed temporarily a certain calligraphic precision: Transfiguration (c 1460).
The visit of Antonello da Messina to Venice in 1475/76 seems to have liberated Giovanni’s innermost talents. Without abandoning the rational structure and interaction of form and space, his colors gain in luminosity and depth; modulation of tone increasingly replaces the dividing outline, light floods the canvas. The landscape, as can be seen in many of his representations of the Virgin and Christ and the Pietà, achieved a quality that marks Bellini as the most important Italian landscape painter of the Early Renaisance. His ability to endow his figures with an expression of quiet contemplation while fully conveying movement and human anatomy, remains a secret that raises him above all his contemporaries.
The great works of his late art, in particular his portrayals of the Sacra Conversazione, already cross the border from Early to High Renaissance in the way artistic freedom and convention merge. As teacher of Giorgione and Titian, Giovanni, whom Dürer on his second visit to Venice from 1505 till 1507 still called the greatest painter of his time, was of immeasurable significance for Venetian art in the 16th century. More than 200 of his works survived till our days, among them 50 images of Madonna with Infant.
Giovanni Bellini. by G. Robertson. Oxford. 1968.
Giovanni Bellini. Old Italian Masters. by V. Lazarev. Moscow 1972. (in Russian)
The Art of the Italian Renaissance. Architecture. Sculpture. Painting. Drawing. Könemann. 1995.
Painting of Europe. XIII-XX centuries. Encyclopedic Dictionary. Moscow. Iskusstvo. 1999. (in Russian)
Venetian Painting in the Fifteenth Century: Jacopo, Gentile and Giovanni Bellini and Andrea Mantegna by Otto Pacht, Margareta Vyoral-Tschapka, Michael Pacht. Harvey Miller, 2003.
Giovanni Bellini (Artist's Library, No. 2.) by Roger Eliot Fry. Ursus Press, 1995.
Giovanni Bellini by Rona Goffen. Yale University Press, 1989.
Giovanni Bellini by Anchise Tempestini. Gallimard, 2000.
The Cambridge Companion to Giovanni Bellini (Cambridge Companions to the History of Art) by Peter Humfrey. Cambridge University Press, 2003.
Bellini, Giorgione, Titian, and the Renaissance of Venetian Painting by David Alan Brown, Sylvia Ferino-Pagden. Yale University Press, 2006.