(b. ca. 1400, Venezia, d. 1470, Venezia)

Triptych of the Nativity

Tempera on panel
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

The church Santa Maria della Carità in Venice was reconstructed in the middle of the 15th century. Various chapels were erected between 1460 and 1464 by noble families. Four chapels were decorated by altarpieces which are now associated with Jacopo Bellini and his sons: the St Sebastian Triptych in the St Sebastian Chapel; the St Lawrence Triptych in the Chapel of Lorenzo Dolfin; the Nativity Triptych in the Chapel of Andrea da Molin; the Madonna Triptych in the Chapel of Giacomo Zorzi. The four triptychs can still be seen in the church of the Carità, for which they were painted, now incorporated into the Gallerie dell'Accademia.

The Nativity Triptych consists of a lunette (60 x 166 cm) representing the Trinity between Sts Augustin and Dominic; the left panel (127 x 48 cm) representing St Francis; the central panel (103 x 45 cm) representing the nativity; the right panel (127 x 48 cm) representing S Victor.

The influence of Mantegna and Donatello is evident in the lunette. Here the figures stand out clearly on the gold ground, now devoid of all transcendental significance, respecting laws of perspective and symmetry as well as of tone and colour, bathing the central panel in light. The subject of the central panel recalls a work of 1447 by Vivarini, now in the Prague National Gallery.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 16 minutes):
Arcangelo Corelli: Concerto grosso in g minor op. 6 No. 8 (Christmas Concerto)