Andrea Mantegna (ca. 1431–1506) and Giovanni Bellini (ca. 1435–1516) were friends, relatives and rivals. They inspired, copied and admired each other. For the first time, the intricately connected oeuvres of these two artists are being presented in a single exhibition, which was produced together with the National Gallery in London and with the cooperation of the British Museum.
In 1452/3 the ambitious, dynamic painter and printmaker Andrea Mantegna, who was active in Padua, married into the Bellini family, who were among the leading painters in nearby Venice. Mantegna’s brilliant compositional innovations and his deep interest in classical antiquity made a major impact on his youngest brother-in-law, Giovanni Bellini. During this time, Bellini’s distinctive painterly style also made a deep impression on Mantegna’s work. After just 10 years of close collaboration, their paths parted. In 1460 Andrea moved to Mantua, where he remained Court Painter to the princely Gonzaga family until his death. Giovanni, on the other hand, spent his entire artistic career in Venice. They were active in very different environments, and their artistic styles developed in very different directions. Yet through all phases of their creative lives, their work provides evidence of their continuing artistic dialogue, something that can be sensed even today.
The collections of the Gemäldegalerie and the National Gallery boast an extraordinary range of high-quality works by Mantegna and Bellini. The collections include masterpieces from all creative phases of these two remarkable artists. Additionally, the Kupferstichkabinett and the British Museum house outstanding collections of works on paper by Mantegna and Bellini, by their family members, and by their protégés. Particularly in their immediacy and spontaneity, these drawings emphasise the artistic proximity of Andrea Mantegna and Giovanni Bellini. Around this nucleus, the exhibition also gathers together a number of outstanding loans. This allows the differences and similarities in the work of these major artists of the Renaissance to be teased out in an exemplary fashion. These unexpected connections and breathtaking juxtapositions make up the unique attraction of this exhibition.
In the special presentation "Bellini Plus: Research and Restoration", the Gemäldegalerie is showing works by Giovanni Bellini and his circle that have been the subject of research and investigation in preparation for this major exhibition until July 21st 2019. Text panels, photos and maps give visitors an insight into the research outcomes of this process, the restoration history of the works, and the recent restoration and conservational measures.
"Mantegna and Bellini: Masters of the Renaissance" is curated by Caroline Campbell (National Gallery, London), Dagmar Korbacher (Kupferstichkabinett – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin), Neville Rowley (Gemäldegalerie and Skulpturensammlung – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin) and Sarah Vowles (British Museum).
The exhibition is under the patronage of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and is sponsored by the Kaiser Friedrich Museumsverein and the Sparkasse-Finanzgruppe.
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