San Zaccaria Altarpiece
by Giovanni BELLINI

This altarpiece was executed by the seventy-five-years-old Bellini for the church of San Zaccaria in Venice. The altarpiece, commissioned in memory of Pietro Cappello, was already in its own time "considered one of the most beautiful and refined works of the master" (Ridolfi, 1648). The compositional and architectural structure of the canvas is not fundamentally very different from the San Giobbe Altarpiece: a niche-like apse surrounding the group of the enthroned Madonna and the saints who are positioned at her sides. However, many Madonnas with saints have been painted before and after, in Italy and elsewhere, but few were ever conceived with such dignity and repose.

The composition of the altarpiece is governed by a rigorous symmetry that highlights connections and contrasts in meaning: St Peter has his usual attributes, the keys of power and the closed book of acquired wisdom; St Jerome is deep in an open book, endless study still before him; Catherine and Lucy, sisterlike, are two demure, wise virgins, each with the same palm and the specific emblems of her martyrdom, a section of wheel in Catherine's case and Lucy's small bowl with her eyes. All the figures are arranged around the direct revelation of the mystery: the incarnation, passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. The story begins with angelic music, reaches its climax in the exhibition of the Child in the arms of Mary, seated on the throne of Solomon, and is recapitulated in the mosaic, which features the early Christian symbols of the evergreen acanthus and the eagle of glory.

Preview Picture Data File Info Comment
San Zaccaria Altarpiece
1505
Oil on canvas, transferred from wood, 402 x 273 cm
San Zaccaria, Venice

900*1325
True Color
182 Kb



San Zaccaria Altarpiece (detail)
1505
Oil on canvas, transferred from wood
San Zaccaria, Venice

900*1146
True Color
99 Kb



San Zaccaria Altarpiece (detail)
1505
Oil on canvas, transferred from wood
San Zaccaria, Venice

797*1400
True Color
131 Kb



San Zaccaria Altarpiece (detail)
1505
Oil on canvas, transferred from wood
San Zaccaria, Venice

804*1400
True Color
146 Kb



San Zaccaria Altarpiece (detail)
1505
Oil on canvas, transferred from wood
San Zaccaria, Venice

900*1024
True Color
82 Kb




Summary of paintings by Giovanni Bellini
-1459 | 1460-69 | 1470-79 | 1480-89 | 1490-99 | 1500-09 | 1510-
Altarpieces
Vincenzo Ferreri | Pesaro | Giobbe | Frari | Barbarigo | Zaccaria
Subjects
| Madonna and Child | Christ | Portrait |