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Mantegna and Bellini. Masters of the Renaissance
2 March, 2019
For the first time, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin is joining forces with the National Gallery in London to present the intimately interwoven work of two artists who were related by marriage, Andrea Mantegna (c. 1431–1506) and Giovanni Bellini (c. 1435–1516).
Featuring around 100 works, this is the first major exhibition to compare and contrast the work of these masters of the Italian Renaissance.
“Mantegna is the hard edged, rigorous painter-humanist of the Italian Renaissance and Bellini is the poetic, intuitive interpreter of human emotions, landscape and light. The two visions of these great artists are complementary and mutually illuminating. Between us, the London and Berlin collections have superb holdings of the works of Mantegna and Giovanni Bellini and the curatorial expertise that we can pool is immense. We are much looking forward to a close and fruitful collaboration,” said Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery. “
Nowhere outside Italy are Mantegna and Bellini, those twin lodestars of the Italian Renaissance, so strongly represented as in the art collections of London and Berlin,” added Michael Eissenhauer, Director-General of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and Director of the Gemäldegalerie.
“What could be more natural than a joint exhibition, following in the best tradition of close cooperation between the Gemäldegalerie and its international partners.”
In 1452/3 Andrea Mantegna, then an aspiring painter and printmaker in Padua, married into one of the leading families of painters in nearby Venice, the Bellini family. Giovanni Bellini, probably the youngest of his brothers-in-law, was deeply impressed by Mantegna’s spectacular pictorial inventiveness and intense interest in classical antiquity.
Bellini’s own unmistakeable painting style also left its mark on Mantegna’s work. After just ten years of close collaboration, their ways parted: Andrea moved to Mantua, where he remained as court painter to the Gonzagas, Marquesses of Mantua, from 1460 until his death.
In contrast, Giovanni spent his entire creative life in Venice. Working in different environments, their artistic
styles developed in very different directions. Yet throughout their lives their work bore distinct traces, still discernible today, of the mutual exchange which they continued to maintain over the decades.
The collections of both the National Gallery and the Gemäldegalerie contain unusually large numbers of high-quality works by Mantegna and Bellini, including masterpieces from every phase of their creative development.
The Staatliche Museen’s Kupferstichkabinett and the British Museum also both hold unusually rich collections of works on paper by Mantegna and Bellini, their family, followers and wider circle.
Around this core, a number of outstanding loans have been assembled, allowing the similarities and differences between the works of these two important Renaissance artists to be brought out as never before.
New groupings and fascinating juxtapositions make this an extraordinarily attractive exhibition.