(b. ca. 1426, Venezia, d. 1516, Venezia)
Madonna and Child1485-90
Oil on wood, 89 x 71 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Bellini was one of the great geniuses of the Renaissance; his use of colour to achieve rich, atmospheric effects became the hallmark of Venetian art of the Renaissance. In addition to large altarpieces, Bellini also painted devotional images of the Madonna and Child for domestic settings. In spite of their modest size and conventional theme, these paintings invariably exhibit a remarkably fresh, inventive approach. The Madonna in this painting is aligned with the vertical axis of the picture, but the rust-coloured cloth of honour and the position of the tenderly held Child introduce a daring asymmetry. The beautifully painted landscape, incorporating a distant view of the Alps, serves to balance the composition and underscores the still, poignant mood of the picture. The quince held by the Child is a symbol of the Resurrection.