Venice, Ferrara, and the Marches

Venetian painting is characterized by deep, rich colors and a strong interest in the effects of light.

1400 - 1500

Beginner's guide

Venice had everything—a stable republican government led by a Doge (“Duke”), wealth from trade, and a unique location as a gateway between Western Europe and the Byzantine Empire.

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Gentile Bellini and Giovanni Bellini, <em>Saint Mark Preaching in Alexandria</em>
Gentile Bellini and Giovanni Bellini, Saint Mark Preaching in Alexandria

Bellini imagines Saint Mark preaching in a collage of different times and places: ancient Alexandria, 16th-century Venice, and the Ottoman Empire.

Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara
Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara

Encased in glittery diamond-shaped marble, Palazzo dei Diamanti illustrates the grandeur of Renaissance Ferrara.

Pisanello, <em>Leonello d’Este</em>
Pisanello, Leonello d’Este

Like a social media post, Pisanello's portrait of Leonello d'Este is all a carefully constructed fiction

Cosmè Tura, <em>Roverella Altarpiece</em>
Cosmè Tura, Roverella Altarpiece

Cosmè Tura’s Roverella altarpiece, though known to us only in its current fragmentary state, speaks to the vibrancy and sophistication of late fifteenth-century Ferrarese art.

Guido Mazzoni, <em>Head of a Man</em>
Guido Mazzoni, Head of a Man

Mazzoni, one of the foremost terracotta sculptors of Northern Italy during the Renaissance, incarnates clay with the spirit of a living person

Sala dei Mesi (Hall of the Months) at Palazzo Schifanoia
Sala dei Mesi (Hall of the Months) at Palazzo Schifanoia

The surviving decorations of Schifanoia offer modern viewers a precious glimpse of the splendorous forms that once adorned the d’Este’s numerous palaces and villas

Andrea Mantegna, <em>Dead Christ</em>
Andrea Mantegna, Dead Christ

Mantegna was fascinated by perspective. His radical foreshortening and realism focus attention on Christ’s wounds.

Giovanni Bellini, <em>Brera Pietà</em>
Giovanni Bellini, Brera Pietà

Bellini zooms in on three figures—the Virgin Mary, Christ, and John—to create a sense of our being with them after Christ's death

Vittore Carpaccio, <em>Miracle of the Relic of the Cross at the Rialto Bridge</em>
Vittore Carpaccio, Miracle of the Relic of the Cross at the Rialto Bridge

A painting shows life on the Grand Canal of Venice, including Black gondoliers

Gentile Bellini, <em>Portrait of Sultan Mehmed II</em>
Gentile Bellini, Portrait of Sultan Mehmed II

Gentile Bellini's portrait of Mehmed II has been re-interpreted and understood many times since it was produced nearly 550 years ago.

Andrea Mantegna, St. James Led to his Execution
Andrea Mantegna, St. James Led to his Execution

A masterpiece lost to American bombs during World War II

Carlo Crivelli, <em>The Annunciation with Saint Emidius</em>
Carlo Crivelli, The Annunciation with Saint Emidius

What are Persian carpets, a peacock, and a cucumber doing in a painting of The Annunciation?

Selected Contributors