Madonna and Child
Italian, ca. 1426–1516
An innovative artist whose influence resonated for generations, Giovanni Bellini was the foremost painter of the early Renaissance in Venice, Italy. Several years before he created this work, Bellini had switched from tempera to oil paint, which allowed him to produce subtle gradations in color, such as those seen here in the fine shadows on the Madonna’s face. The figures appear before a green Cloth of Honor that symbolizes renewal, while the bare tree in the upper right may allude both to the Crucifixion and to the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden.