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

Sacred Allegory

Oil on panel, 73 x 119 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

The meaning of the representation of the painting is an unresolved question. According to the various interpretations the painting would be seen respectively as: (1) the pictorial representation of a French allegorical poem of the 14th century; (2) a Sacred Conversation; (3) a complex allegorical representation of God's four daughters (Mercy, Justice, Peace, Charity); (4) the vision of Paradise; (5) a meditation on incarnation.

In the past the painting was for long attributed to Giorgione owing to the warm diffusion of the light, the subtle but total naturalism, and the air drenched with golden color. Nevertheless the scheme used by Bellini was still the traditional one, planned according to a rational and controlled construction of the whole composition, although signs of the imminent new landscapist vision of the 16th ventury can be discerned.

The picture is, however, justly one of the most famous of the master's paintings, inspired, in the already complete tonal unity of the colour, by a spirit of profound and visionary contemplation. From such works as this Giorgione takes his point of departure.