(b. ca. 1426, Venezia, d. 1516, Venezia)
Virgin and Child (detail)1485-88
Oil on canvas
Burrell Collection, Glasgow
The theme of the Virgin and Child represented in half length behind a marble ledge was one particularly favoured by Bellini, and he painted innumerable versions of it throughout his long life. He succeeded in investing it at once with human accessibility and spiritual gravity. On one level Mary is portrayed as a mother, tenderly looking after her child as he plays with a sprig of blossom on a thread. Yet, despite the elimination of accessories such as crowns, haloes and rich fabrics, the divine status of the figures is clearly implied by their seriousness and thoughtfulness.