Giovanni Bellini was an Italian Renaissance painter who is known for his oil-painting technique and his use of vibrant colors. The Renaissance was a period in which a cultural revolution or movement was taking place; it started out in Italy and spread out through other parts of Western Europe. Bellini’s various works echo the voices of the Renaissance and different aspects of the movement. During the Renaissance, religion was an integral factor in society; as a result, it was very much involved in the art and culture.
Bellini’s famous Madonna and Child is originally a religious painting which is believed to depict the Virgin Mary and Jesus, causing popularity and appeal amongst the religious audience of the time. A compelling message behind this painting is the affection and serenity present; even though it is not overly emotional; the connection between the Virgin Mary and Jesus is evident. To a more modern and general audience, this painting could be considered from an extended perspective. Madonna and Child could possibly be a general depiction of a mother and her child.
In light of the Renaissance, this painting could be decoded to show the relationship between women and children and how children were viewed as the sole concern or job of women. The position of the hands in a submissive manner could mean that women comprehend or surrender to their obligations of being mothers first and foremost. An underlying message is possibly to inform the masses regarding the nature of the relationship that binds women and children; a bond that is indispensable to society.
In Madonna and Child, Bellini uses oil paint on a wooden canvas. He resorts to a black background in order to bring out the colors and exaggerate the focus on the central figures. The features on both figures are very precise and careful which shows great technique. Also, the colors in the painting stand out to anyone that looks towards the painting which gives it an aura that is different than other less colorful paintings of the time.
With a closer look, the colors and aspects of the painting resemble different things when put into context of its time and place. Although not prominent, the use of green shows honor, integrity and respect. The red; however, which is the most protuberant, brings attention to the drapery which is a sign of high rank and importance. The white, as always, signifies purity and transparency. The use of color is, possibly, the most obvious and visible channel between the creator of a painting and the painting’s audience.
Therefore, much detail should be given to the colors and shades in order to further understand the memorandum of a painting. Bellini also chooses to keep the painting very simple rather than add other symbols or representations. In other versions of his Madonna and Child, he usually painted a landscape in the background and placed a few objects. Perhaps the reason Bellini chose not to do that in this version of the painting was to not distract the audience from the concentration of the painting and to bring the two figures out more.
He might have thought that the less it contained, the more powerful it would be. When contrasted with other artists’ Madonna and Child, this painting appears to be quite different. While the central religious message remains in all versions of the painting, Bellini resorts to different elements when compared to Duccio di Buoninsegna for instance. In Buoninsegna’s Madonna and Child, the features are less detailed and intricate and the colors are not as vibrant.
Also, there is more affection in Buoninsegna’s version which is manifested in the way the Virgin Mary is holding Jesus and the way Jesus is reaching for her face. Bellini’s Madonna and Child is an exquisite version of the painting which serves as a milestone in Christian art. His technique and use of color add to its uniqueness and distinctiveness. Even though it dates back to the Renaissance, and functions in the religious context of the time, this Madonna and Child still appeals to the eyes of modern audience.