Giovanni Bellini (c. 1430 – 1516) was an Italian Renaissance painter, probably the best known of the Bellini family of Venetian painters. His father was Jacopo Bellini, his brother was Gentile Bellini and his brother-in-law was Andrea Mantegna. He is considered to have revolutionized Venetian painting, moving it towards a more sensuous and colouristic style. Through the use of clear, light colours and soft, brush strokes he was able to convey great emotion and depth. His work is characterized by a serene beauty and atmospheric tranquillity.
Bellini was born in Venice. He is thought to have been taught by his father, who was a workshop manager for the Venetian Republic’s official artist, Gentile da Fabriano. Bellini’s earliest known work is a painting of the Virgin and Child from 1459, in the collection of the Chapel Royal at Windsor Castle. His first major commission was for an altarpiece in the church of San Zaccaria in Venice. He painted several large-scale works for this church, including a Last Judgement, in 1466–67.
In 1470, he began to work on his most famous painting, the San Zaccaria altarpiece. This painting, which took seven years to complete, is considered one of the greatest Renaissance paintings. It is an enormous work, measuring over fourteen feet wide and twenty-six feet tall. The painting depicts the Madonna enthroned with the Christ Child, surrounded by angels and saints.
In 1474, Bellini was elected to the Venetian Academy of Painters. He became its head in 1479. In 1484, he began to teach his nephew, Gentile Bellini.
In 1492, Bellini completed one of his most important works, the altarpiece for the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo. This painting is considered a masterpiece of Renaissance art. It depicts the Madonna and Child surrounded by saints and angels.
Bellini died in Venice in 1516. He was buried in the church of San Zaccaria.