Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Eye Candy for Today: Bellini’s Feast of the Gods

The Feast of the Gods, Giovanni Bellini and Titian
The Feast of the Gods, Giovanni Bellini and Titian

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the National Gallery of Art, DC, which also has downloadable files (the larger of which requires a free login account).

Venetian Renaissance master Giovanni Bellini‘s last great painting was uncharacteristically a mythological scene — a departure from his lifetime of religious subjects — painted two years before his death.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, which has the painting in its collection, describes The Feast of the Gods as “one of the greatest Renaissance paintings in the United States”. (Since they also have Leonardo’s stunning portrait of Ginevra de’ Benci in their collection, they should know.)

The painting was commissioned by Duke Alfonso d’Este as one of a series of works to decorate his study. Some years after Bellini’s death, the duke commissioned changes to the painting, first by Dosso Dossi, who revised the landscape at upper left and added the pheasant in the tree at the upper right, and then by Bellini’s brilliant student, Titian, who painted over Dosso’s landscape changes (but left he pheasant) and created the landscape at left and the dramatic mountainscape in center that we see in the the painting’s current state.

There is an article on the painting on Wikipedia, and an analysis of the work on WebExhibits, including an exposition on the pigments used, gleaned from an investigation of the painting carried out during a restoration conducted in 1985. There is a more recent continuation of the WebExhibits description of the pigments on ColourLex.


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