(b. ca. 1400, Venezia, d. 1470, Venezia)


Bellini, Jacopo (1400?-1470?), Venetian painter, founder of an artistic dynasty that included his sons Gentile and Giovanni Bellini and son-in-law Andrea Mantegna. A tinsmith's son, Jacopo was apprenticed to the celebrated International Gothic painter Gentile da Fabriano and may have accompanied Gentile to Florence in the 1420s. He was certainly at the court of Ferrara in 1441, where he competed with Pisanello in painting the duke's portrait and won. Most of his career, however, was spent in Venice, where he executed many important paintings for churches, religious confraternities, and the Venetian state. These have all perished, and Jacopo is known as a painter only from a few smaller works. Some, such as The Annunciation (Sant' Alessandro, Brescia) are very lovely, although still closely linked with the Gothic past. More adventurous are the drawings preserved in two notebooks (Louvre, Paris; British Museum, London). These, displaying a range hardly equaled in any contemporary's surviving output, couple the new Renaissance interests of perspective and realistic observation with a vein of narrative and architectural fantasy to astonishing effect. They make understandable Jacopo's position as a progenitor of the Renaissance in North Italy.