Mantegna and Bellini

T.J. Clark at the LRB:

Bellini was probably even younger than Mantegna when he first saw his new relative’s Presentation of Christ in the Temple – art historians will never stop worrying about his exact birthdate. (He may have been Jacopo Bellini’s illegitimate son. Records are scarce. Mantegna was the child of a carpenter, from a very ordinary village. His birthdate is also unknown.) When Bellini turned back to The Presentation of Christ in the Temple twenty years later he was the master of a new style, and dialogue with Mantegna had established itself as an aspect of that mastery – his great Agony in the Garden, done in response to a panel by his brother-in-law, lay behind him. It is hard, therefore, not to see the redoing of The Presentation of Christ in the Temple as some kind of contest as well as homage. But I found myself as I looked convinced that for Bellini what counted most was the opportunity, within the confines of someone else’s invention, to reflect on – to discover – what his own art most deeply consisted of. Oil paint versus tempera made many things clear. And, further, coming to terms with the true nature of one’s art – one’s necessary medium – meant coming closer to the mysteries enounced in Luke’s text.

more here.

Like what you're reading? Don't keep it to yourself!
Share on Facebook
Tweet about this on Twitter
Share on Reddit
Share on LinkedIn
Email this to someone