Giovanni Bellini

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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.

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.

Staff Favorites: Cave Dweller

Oil painting of St. Francis dressed in robes in a rocky landscape with animals and a city in the distance
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.”

Past Exhibition: Bellini's St. Francis

Oil painting of St. Francis in a landscape.
In a New Light: Bellini's St. Francis in the Desert
May 22, 2011 to August 28, 2011

One of the most familiar and beloved paintings at The Frick Collection, Giovanni Bellini’s St. Francis in the Desert (c. 1480), is also deeply enigmatic. The artist has imagined this medieval saint alone in a stony wilderness, stepping forward from his simple shelter into a golden light that seems to transfigure him spiritually. For centuries, viewers of this masterpiece have puzzled over the meaning of Bellini’s composition and have sought explanations in a variety of pictorial and textual sources.

Cocktails with a Curator: Bellini's 'St. Francis in the Desert'

Link to video of Cocktails with a Curator 041020

In the first episode of "Cocktails with a Curator," Xavier F. Salomon, Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator, hosts us for happy hour at his apartment. The subject of tonight's presentation is the Frick's beloved painting St. Francis in the Desert by Giovanni Bellini, and the complementary cocktail is the Manhattan.

Cocktail Recipe
Xavier's Manhattan
1/2 Italian Vermouth
1/2 Bourbon
Stir well and strain into a cocktail glass
Maraschino cherry

A Discussion on Bellini's St. Francis in the Desert

Link to video of discussion about Giovanni Bellini

The Frick Collection's St. Francis in the Desert (ca. 1475-78) by Giovanni Bellini ranks among the most important Italian Renaissance paintings in America. We invite the public to listen as a group of invited scholars discuss the painting from the perspective of the Franciscan order, which traces its origins to St. Francis of Assisi. Susannah Rutherglen, former Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow at the Frick, offers an introduction to the painting and an overview of the March 2010 technical study of the work performed by conservators at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Fr.

Susannah Rutherglen: "Bellini to Veronese: Ornamental Paintings of the Venetian Renaissance"

Link to video of Susanna Rutherglen lecture

Painters of the Venetian Renaissance are best known for their monumental altarpieces, narrative and mythological canvases, and intimate works for private devotion. Many of the same masters engaged in the ornamental arts as well, painting panels for integration into beds, chests, musical instruments, and doors. Susannah Rutherglen describes this less familiar genre, traces the fortunes of surviving artifacts, and discusses their themes, styles, and relevance to the history of Italian Renaissance art.

Charlotte Hale: "Bellini’s St. Francis in the Desert: New Discoveries"

Link to video of Charlotte Hale lecture

In the spring of 2010 Bellini’s St. Francis in the Desert underwent an unprecedented technical study at The Metropolitan Museum of Art that incorporated infrared reflectography, X-radiography, surface examination, and paint analysis. The results, which are presented in this lecture by Charlotte Hale, expand our understanding of the evolution and history of this spectacular, enigmatic painting. This lecture was made possible by the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation.

Keith Christiansen: "Finding Our Way into Bellini's St. Francis..."

Link to video of Keith Christiansen lecture

In Bellini’s great masterpiece, the traditional relationship of figure to setting has been reversed, thus engaging us in a way that transforms our experience of the picture and our understanding of the artist’s creative genius. Keith Christiansen will discuss the impetus behind this transformation and its implications for interpreting the picture’s much-discussed subject. This lecture was made possible by the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation.