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

Transfiguration of Christ

c. 1487
Oil on wood, 115 x 152 cm
Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples

This is the second and final version of the subject by Bellini. The first version was executed in c. 1455. This version differs from the earlier rendering. The event is no longer supernatural, and Mount Tabor is reduced to a slight rise. The afternoon is well advanced : at the left a farmer leads an ox and goat past a monastery on a crag that is already darkening in the evening shadows. Christ stands in the centre of this chilly landscape, his hands and head silhouetted against the shining white clouds. The flanking figures of Moses and Elijah have all the majesty of the Old Testament. Before this group the three apostles have fallen to the ground. A sapling fence moves diagonally across the foreground, and immediately behind it opens a rocky chasm, creating an explicit separation between the observer and the holy event.