Giovanni Bellini

(Italian, ca. 1424/35–1516)


Giovanni Bellini 

Details of Giovanni Bellini’s birth and early life remain largely unknown. He grew up in Venice, his likely birthplace, training with his brother, Gentile, in the workshop of their father, the painter Jacopo Bellini. During the first decades of his career, Giovanni contributed to large-scale works in collaboration with his father and brother. In 1453, the painter Andrea Mantegna married Giovanni’s sister Nicolosia, inaugurating a mutually profitable artistic exchange between the two artists. Living by himself by 1459, Bellini began receiving commissions for larger works in the early to mid-1460s. By this time, he ran a large workshop that produced altarpieces, portraits, and pictures for private devotion. History paintings and mythological scenes would follow in the artist’s later career. While focusing on an individual or group of figures, Bellini’s paintings also increasingly emphasized the landscape and profited from the application of oil paint, which came to replace tempera in much of his work. Highly influential by the turn of the sixteenth century, Bellini does not seem to have ever left the Veneto, where he died of natural causes in 1516.

Works in the Collection


Digital Collections

Access the rich collection of Photoarchive images, scanned books, and archival documents

  • Mapping Provenance: Bellini's St. Francis in the Desert

    Giovanni Bellini’s St. Francis in the Desert (ca. 1475–80) is one of the Frick’s most beloved works of art, but there was a time when it could not find a buyer. Explore the ups and downs of the art market through an interactive map charting the panel’s peregrinations, from quattrocento Venice to its temporary home at Frick Madison.
  • Man sitting between a window and Bellini's "St. Francis in the Desert"

    Middle Ground: Bellini and Breuer, Odes to Light

    Surprising connections are waiting to be discovered at Frick Madison. In the debut post of “Middle Ground,” explore unexpected links between Giovanni Bellini’s St. Francis in the Desert and Marcel Breuer’s iconic trapezoidal window, a transcendent juxtaposition on the third floor of the museum’s temporary home.
  • oil painting of St. Francis in the Desert

    Staff Favorites: Cave Dweller

    Christopher Snow Hopkins, Assistant Editor, looks closely at the barefoot cave dweller in Bellini’s St. Francis in the Desert: “The forest was his chapel, the birds his parishioners.”

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Google Arts & Culture


    St. Francis in the Desert

    This image was produced in conjunction with Google Arts & Culture, in which one masterpiece from each of seventeen museums worldwide — the Frick included — was selected for high-resolution gigapixel photography. The results are now viewable online through a Google-hosted Web site created for the general public as well as art educators.

Giorgio da Castelfranco, known as Giorgione (ca. 1477–1510), The Three Philosophers, ca. 1508–9. Oil on canvas, 49 7/16 x 57 9/16 in. (125.5 x 146.2 cm). Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Photo: KHM-Museumsverband