Giovanni Bellini (ca. 1435-1516), widely considered the greatest Venetian artist of his time, was born into the most influential artistic family in Venice. He received his training in the studio of his father, Jacopo, along with his brother, Gentile, and through a long and fruitful career played a leading role in defining the Renaissance style in Venice. His workshop, one of the most important of the period, counted Giorgione and Titian among its pupils.
The first account of his life, by Giorgio Vasari, also portrays the family artistic enterprise; it appeared in Vasari's seminal Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, published in 1550 and revised and expanded in 1568. A century later Carlo Ridolfi, who sought to rectify Vasari's emphasis on Florentine painters, provides a fuller portrayal of Bellini in his 1648 work The Marvels of Art, or theLives of the Famous Painters of Venice and Its State. These two narratives are complemented in this book by Marco Boschini's poetic homage to the artist and by correspondence between the renowned Renaissance patron of the arts Isabella d'Este, Bellini, and others regarding the commission of a painting for her celebrated studiolo in Mantua. Ridolfi's biography, Boschini's poem, and the Isabella d'Este correspondence appear here in English for the first time. Full-page color illustrations throughout the book represent the full sweep of Bellini's career.