Otto Pächt, one of the most
significant art-historians of the ‘Vienna School’, and well
known for his analyses of Early Netherlandish art, turns his attention
in this publication to the humanist circle of Early Renaissance
painters in Venice, dominated by Jacopo Bellini, his sons Gentile and
Giovanni, and also his son-in-law Andrea Mantegna. It was a period of
newly awakened interest in the Antique, of studies made directly from
nature, and of trial and error in the technique of perspective. And in
addition, a new awareness of the role of light and colour in the
devotional and often monumental images of the Madonna, of altarpieces
and of allegories contributed to the founding of what we now recognise
as the hall-mark of Venetian painting, that culminated with Titian.
Of the Bellini family, it has been Giovanni who was generally regarded
as the major figure of the dynasty. Pächt, however, devotes particular
attention to Jacopo’s work, interpreting it as the basis for his
sons’ later development. He analyses Jacopo’s London and
Paris Sketchbook drawings, demonstrating where Late Gothic elements can
be seen to be overtaken by the need to give perspective depth to the
image, and how subsequent painting took account of these changes. This
is also the essence of Pächt’s examination of Mantegna’s
work, where the construction of space and depth is the key to our
understanding of Mantegna’s creative process.
Turning to the next generation of the Bellini family, Pächts guides our
eyes to appreciate the refinement and perception of Gentile’s
portraits, and finally takes us step by step through the works of
Giovanni, where fantasy combines with the play of colour and light in
creating compositions, devotional images, and landscape settings of
perfect harmony and beauty.
!Winner of the Apollo Magazine
Book of the Year 2003 Award!
lessons are as timely now as thitrty-five years ago." (P. Hills in
The Burlington Magazine, cxlvii, January 2005, p.