Saturday, February 3, 2018

"Detail from Giovanni Bellini's Madonna di Brera" (oil on stretched linen; 10" x 8")

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The painting is the copy of a detail from "Madonna di Brera" (1510) by the Italian Renaissance master Giovanni Bellini. The original hangs in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, Italy. My painting shows the Virgina Mary. By the way, Belinni was the Week 4 lesson for "Let's Face It 2018".

When he painted it, Bellini was around eighty and one of the most prestigious figures of the Venetian Renaissance, a sort of charismatic patriarch who, at the end of his career, showed that he was able to take in and guide a new direction in style.

Giovanni Bellini, "Madonna di Brera"

The space of the picture is dominated by the monumental figure of the Virgin seated on a throne, wrapped in loose drapery that dilates the volume of her body in line with 15th-century schemes for construction of the image. But the harshness and incisiveness of line has vanished, and the entire composition is now built up out of color alone. Behind the Madonna stretches a landscape that is perhaps the true protagonist of the painting, pervaded by a warm luminosity that makes it look more like a magical evocation than a realistic description.

With this painting, Bellini perfected the pictorial representation of that special atmosphere and natural light which were to characterize the whole of Venetian production in the 16th century, achieving this stylistic effect through a precise change in the technique of execution: in fact examination under infrared light, carried out during the restoration of 1987, revealed the almost total absence of preparatory drawing, reduced to a summary sketch without hatching or shading on which the image was constructed solely by the spreading of paint.

I was charmed by the serious expression of the young Virgin Mary. Bellini painted many other Madonnas, but it was this Madonna that stole my heart.

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