BELLINI, Gentile
(b. ca. 1429, Venezia, d. 1507, Venezia)


Bellini, Gentile (1429?-1507), Venetian painter, son of Jacopo and (probably elder) brother of Giovanni Bellini. A much honored painter during his lifetime, Gentile was sent by the Venetian state to Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 1479 in response to Sultan Muhammad II's request for a good portraitist. Some of his most beautiful works date from his year's sojourn there, including a portrait of the sultan (National Gallery, London) and a watercolor portrait of a boy scribe (Gardner Museum, Boston), which reflects the influence of the Islamic painting style.

Gentile was best known for his honest, searching portraits of the Venetian doges and for his large-scale narrative paintings. Most of the latter were destroyed by a fire in the Doges' Palace in 1579, but three Miracles of the True Cross (Accademia, Venice) survive to establish their character. Set in contemporary Venice, they are pictorially somewhat dry but valuable as circumstantially accurate records of the city and its people in Gentile's time.