BELLINI, Giovanni
(b. ca. 1426, Venezia, d. 1516, Venezia)

Madonna degli Alberetti

Oil on panel, 74 x 58 cm
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

This highly balanced picture incorporates a system of double lighting that characterizes a small group of similar compositions. The curtain behind the Virgin captures the light coming from in front of her in such a way that the shadow of her figure is projected onto the fabric. In the landscape background beyond, on the other hand, the light expands totally independently in an even, diffused luminosity. The two small trees, or alberetti, on either side of the Virgin that give the painting its name may allude to the Song of Solomon or, in contrast with the dead bushes next to them, the Old and New Testaments.

The panel, the first known work by Bellini to bear a date, is signed and dated under the feet of the Child: IOANNES.BELLINUS.P. / 1487.