Born in Venice, Jacopo had been a pupil of Gentile da Fabriano. In 1411–1412
he was in Foligno, where with Gentile he worked at the Palazzo Trinci frescoes.
In 1423 Bellini was in Florence, where he knew the new works by Brunelleschi,
Donatello, Masolino da Panicale and Masaccio.
In 1424 he opened a workshop in Venice, which he ran right up until his death.
Many of his greatest works, including the enormous Crucifixion in the cathedral
of Verona (1436), have disappeared. From c. 1430 is the panel with Madonna and
Child, in the Accademia Carrara, once attributed to Gentile da Fabriano. In
1441, at Ferrara, where he was at the service of Leonello d'Este together with
Leon Battista Alberti, he executed a portrait of that Marquess, now lost. Of
this period the Madonna dell'Umiltà, probably commissioned by one of the
brothers of Leonello.
The influence from Masolino da Panicale towards more modern, early Renaissance
themes is visible in the Madonna with Child (dated 1448) in the Pinacoteca di
Brera: for the first time, perspective is present and the figure are more
monumental. Later he contributed with works now lost to the Venetian churches of
San Giovanni Evangelista (1452) and St. Mark (1466). From 1459 is a Madonna with
Blessing Child in the Gallerie dell'Accademia.
Later he sojourned in Padua, where he trained a young Andrea Mantegna in
perspective and classicist themes and where, in 1460, he finished a portrait of
Erasmo Gattamelata, now lost. Of his late phase, a ruined Crucifix in the Museum
of Verona and an Annunciation in Sant'Alessandro of Brescia remain.
Few of his paintings still exist, but his surviving sketch-books (one in the
British Museum and one in the Louvre) show an interest in landscape and
elaborate architectural design and are his most important legacy. His surviving
works show how he accommodated linear perspective to the decorative patterns and
rich colors of Venetian painting
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