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Gentile Bellini

Venetian, c. 1429/1430 - 1507

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Gentile Bellini became the official painter to the Venetian Republic, having collaborated with his father, Jacopo, until his death in 1471. In 1474 Gentile was commissioned to redecorate the Sala del Maggior Consiglio in the Doges' Palace. In September 1479, Sultan Mehmed of the Turks had requested, through a special envoy, the services of a sculptor, a bronze founder, and some painters, and the Senate ordered Gentile to go to Constantinople, abandoning his work on the Council Chamber. His place was taken by his younger brother Giovanni. At Constantinople, Gentile was employed to produce court portraits, of which a painting of Mehmed has survived at the National Gallery in London,[1] and also to make an icon of the Virgin and Child and to decorate some palace apartments. An example of his portrait medal of Mehmed is in the NGA collection, 1957.14.737.a,b.

Bellini returned to Venice by the end of November 1480, rejoining the team in the Doges' Palace, continuing his practice as a portrait painter, but making no more medals.

[1] Martin Davies, National Gallery Catalogues: The Earlier Italian School, London, 1961; reprint ed., London, 1971: 51-52, no. 3099.

[This is the artist's biography published in the NGA systematic catalogue of Renaissance medals.]

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