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

Madonna and Child Blessing

Oil on wood, 85 x 118 cm
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan

In its interpretation this painting shows similarity to the famous Madonna of Meadows in London. Altough the curtain (characteristic to the earlier period) returns to separate the holy group from the surrounding landscape, a new vision that takes account of Giorgione's innovations, and absorbs them, blends the natural elements with the human presence.

The analysis carried out on the occasion of the last restauration (1986) revealed the absence of a preparatory drawing in the landscape. This confirms that, while for the figures Bellini still felt the need to lay out the image beforehand, by this time he had a full and total confidence in the manipulation and figurative arrangement of the landscape. Over the preparatory ground he proceeded with light strokes, on which he often intervened with his fingertips.

Even fifty years after the begining of his career Bellini has not abandoned the habit inherited from his father Jacopo of the sketch in a notebook and the single study from life. Here, then, is a tiny cheetah on the classical memorial stone, farming activities and animals. The result is a transparent landscape with a light, ordered structure. Although, in this respect, it is certainly still linked to the Quattrocento, the light is now so much the essence of it that it transforms and directs it toward tonalism. The organization of the image is quite unitary, also because it is bathed in a soft, gentle, auroral light that alludes to the dawn of a new era.