By Anne Leader and Livia Lupi

Renaissance painter Gentile Bellini died on 23 February 1507 in Venice. Although their relationship and workshop practice have been recently questioned, Gentile is thought to be the eldest son of Jacopo Bellini and the brother of Giovanni, all three of them key figures for Renaissance painting in Venice. 

Gentile was active as a painter and diplomat for the Venetian republic. In 1479, the government sent him to Constantinople to work for Sultan Muhammad II as a portraitist. In addition to portraits, Gentile is known for large-scale, “eye-witness” narrative paintings set in Renaissance Venice, including the canvases painted for the Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista. These feature the Procession in Piazza San Marco (1496), Cross Fallen in the Canal (1500) and Third Miracle of the Cross (1501), and are now in the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice. Gentile’s painting St Mark Preaching in Alexandria for the Scuola Grande di San Marco was finished by Giovanni Bellini.

Reference: Peter Humfrey, et al. “Bellini.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press.

Bellini, Gentile,” Dizionario Biografico, Enciclopedia Treccani.

Further reading: Otto Pacht, Venetian Painting in the Fifteenth Century: Jacopo, Gentile and Giovanni Bellini and Andrea Mantegna (Harvey Miller Publishers, 2005)

Mehmet II, 1480, oil on canvas, National Gallery, London

The Healing of Pietro dei Ludovici, c. 1501, tempera on canvas, Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice

Procession in Piazza San Marco, 1496, tempera and oil on canvas, Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice

Procession in Piazza San Marco, detail.

Gentile and Giovanni Bellini, St Mark Preaching in Alexandria, 1504-1507, oil on canvas, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan.

Miracle of the Cross at the Bridge of San Lorenzo, 1500, tempera on canvas, Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice.

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