Bellini and the East
Fifteenth-century Venice was the commercial linchpin between Western Europe and the richer civilisations of the Eastern Mediterranean, monopolising the trade of luxury goods. But the relationship between Venice and the East was not merely commercial – ideas and aesthetics were exchanged and developed in a remarkable age of cultural fusion.
It is now well known that this interaction between East and West had a profound effect on Venice’s distinctive architecture, but the impact on Venetian painting of this synthesis of Western Christendom, Byzantium and the Islamic world has never been fully explored.
This vast topic is addressed in Bellini and the East, illustrated through the work of the supremely talented Bellini family of painters (Jacopo, and his sons Gentile and Giovanni), who transformed Venetian painting in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, and who encapsulate the integration of different cultures and ideas. This book shows how Islamic and Byzantine objects came to be shown in Venetian painting, and discusses Gentile Bellini’s visit to the court of Mehmet II (1432–1481).