Jacopo Bellini was the founder of a Venetian dynasty of artists. He was active in Venice as early as 1424; a document dating from the previous, in which he is mentioned as assistant to the Umbrian Gentile da Fabriano, refers to him as Jacopo Veneto.
In 1441, Jacopo went to Ferrara, where he was victorious in a painting competition with Pisanello. In honor of his teacher, or so, at any rate, Vasari maintains, he gave his eldest son, born in 1429, the name of Gentile; in the following year his second son, Giovanni, was born, his legitimacy is in some doubt. Some historians think him to be the son of Jacopo's mistress and not his wife, though there is no direct evidence, and the guess is based only in the fact that Jacopo’s widow, Anna Rinversi, in her last will, dated November 1471, did not mention Giovanni as one of her heirs. In 1453, Jacopo married off his daughter, Nicolosia, to the painter Andrea Mantegna, who was at that time working in Padua.
Too few pictures by Jacopo Bellini have survived for us to see them as a representation of his work. He largely followed the model of the leading Gothic masters, or, still more, the Byzantine tradition in Venice. His Madonnas: Madonna of the Cherubim, Madonna and Child look like Byzantine icons.
As very few oil paintings by Jacopo are known, all the more importance, then, is attached to two of his sketch-books one in the British Museum, the other in the Louvre with about 230 drawings. Carefully guarded by his sons as a collection of patterns, these drawings can be appreciated as works of art in their own right. They show also that Jacopo took great interest and concentrated his attention on perspective.
Jacopo’s work was very popular at the time.
The Art of the Italian Renaissance. Architecture. Sculpture. Painting. Drawing. Könemann. 1995.
Painting of Europe. XIII-XX centuries. Encyclopedic Dictionary. Moscow. Iskusstvo. 1999.
Jacopo Bellini: The Louvre Album of Drawings by Jacopo Bellini. George Braziller, 1984.
Genius of Jacopo Bellini by Colin T Eisler. Harry N Abrams, 1989.
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.