Bellini, Gentile (ca. 1429–1507)

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Bellini, Gentile (ca. 14291507)

The son of Jacopo Bellini, Gentile was one of the most renowned Venetian painters of the Renaissance. Trained by his father, he closely followed Jacopo's painting style in his early works. In 1474 he began work on a cycle of historical paintings that would decorate the Chamber of the Great Council in the Doge's palace in Venice. For the Scuola Grande di San Lorenzo, Bellini painted another grand cycle, including The Procession of the True Cross in the Piazza San Marco, a work completed in 1496. These huge canvases contain hundreds of figures and highlight the splendor of the city of Venice. Bellini also made Venice the setting for paintings he made for the religious confraternity of San Giovanni Evangelista. These works, which include Procession in St. Mark's Square and Recovery of the Holy Cross, celebrate a holy relic owned by the school.

In 1479 the Doge of Venice sent Bellini as a diplomat to the court of Muhammad II, the sultan of the Ottoman Empire, who had requested a skilled painter. Muhammad defied Islamic traditions forbidding representations of the human form by having Bellini paint his portrait, a lifelike picture that became one of Bellini's most famous works. Bellini's reputation in the east gained him prestige in Venice and imbued his later works with elements of Islamic artistic style. Bellini was also known for his portraits of the doges of Venice and other nobility, including Caterina Cornaro, the queen of Cyprus.

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Bellini, Gentile (ca. 1429–1507)

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