Friday, 18 March 2011

M/M The Cambridge Companion to Giovanni Bellini (Cambridge Companions to the History of Art)

Review by Nicola Linza

This organized and well illustrated volume edited by Peter Humfrey is a scholarly comprehensive study of Giovanni Bellini's intriguing and sometimes problematic Italian masterworks of art. Today recognized as one of the greatest Renaissance artists to come from Italy, Giovanni Bellini was in his day one of the dominant painters of the Early Renaissance.

This collective publication includes serious consideration of Bellini's social and professional life which establishes him in early modern Venice. There is an interesting (and sure to be groundbreaking) reassessment of his artistic relationship with his brother-in-law Mantegna, as well as his relationship to Flemish painting.

A fascinating examination is also presented of his relationship with the new style of art that emerged in Italy around 1500. What sets this volume apart from previous scholarly studies of Bellini's work is the coming together of these unique and interesting social and professional factors.

Bellini's approach to sculpture and architecture is studied in-depth, and detailed, and the study of Bellini's breathtaking use of color and landscape, traditionally elements recognized as central to his renowned pictorial genius, (and central to his constantly evolving pictorial technique,) is nothing short of brilliant.

Including an impressive 384 pages and 114 half-tones this complete examination of Bellini concludes with chapters focusing directly on his not often examined drawings and collaborators. There have been many studies of Bellini over the years but in this highly enlightening publication important commissioned essays finally come together to focus on significant topics and themes central (and pivotal) to Bellini's career. This is the art volume of the season. A superb compliment to a fine art library collection which is sure to be a sought after collectable work in the very near future. Highly recommended.