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

Madonna and Child with Two Saints (detail)

c. 1490
Oil on wood
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

An excellent example of the special skill of Giovanni Bellini in using light effects to detach images from their backgrounds can be seen in his 'Madonna and Child between St. Catherine and St. Mary Magdalene' where the sacred figures stand out not against a landscape but rather against a dense blackish backcloth. The forms take shape and substance in the light in a concert of musical gestures and deep, warm colours judged to exactly the right degree of refinement. While the Virgin in the centre of the group seems to be turning slowly, and St. Catherine on the left, her hair fashionably dressed with strings of pearls, lingers ecstatically in mute adoration, Mary Magdalene emerges from the black of the background in a Leonardesque apparition, her fair, silken tresses hanging loose over her shoulders.

This detail shows Saint Magdalene.