The National Gallery is celebrating the works of two of the most talented artists of the Renaissance period, Andrea Mantegna and Giovanni Bellini.
This exhibition will display some of the most iconic paintings and drawings by the two artists. There was a great deal of creative exchange and communication between the two artists, who were also brothers-in-law. However, Mantegna worked from Mantua and Bellini from Venice, so the geographical distance between them led to them forging their own individual styles as well.
Mantegna is known for his experimentation with perspective and optical illusion, a key feature of many Renaissance artworks, and his paintings often had a ‘sculptural’ look to them. Mantegna’s figures were rigid and his colours generally more neutral than Bellini’s, who preferred deeper colours and softer figures. However, both artists were equally influential in the Italian Renaissance, and initially Bellini, the younger artist, was influenced by Mantegna in his earlier works. While Mantegna’s legacy was his use of spatial illusionism, Bellini’s was his use of colour and natural light.
Seeing the paintings side by side, you can truly explore how the two artists influenced each other, but also how their approaches were so different. The focus of this exhibition is two sets of paintings by Mantegna and Bellini with the same subject matter, ‘The Agony in the Garden’ and ‘The Presentation to the Temple’ juxtaposed side by side, for you to compare how the two artists depicted the same two biblical stories. Both of Bellini’s paintings are later than Mantegna’s, and it is clear that Mantegna influenced his works, even just the way figures are positioned, but Bellini’s individual style still shines through.
The National Gallery
Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN