La Madonna dai cherubini rossi

Madonna and Child (Madonna of the Red Cherubim)

Giovanni Bellini

Author
Giovanni Bellini
Venezia, 1434/1439 - 1516
Title
Madonna and Child (Madonna of the Red Cherubim)
Catalogue
612
Support
Wood panel, 77 x 60 cm
Provenance
Acquired following the Napoleonic Suppression, 1812
Hall
Hall IV

The panel was registered as one of the assets of the Scuola Grande della Carità when these assets were included in the catalogue of the Gallerie dell’Accademia in 1812. Its collection history prior to this is unkown, though it is plausible that it was donated to the Scuola by a member. The landscape, which is minutely and descriptively characterised almost “in the Flemish manner”, is juxtaposed with the already naturalistic study of the light and puffy clouds in the sky and beneath the cherubim. These cherubim, with their empty eyes and bright red colour, obviously anti-naturalistic and archaistic in intent, are a direct citation of the Jacopo Bellini prototype, which is also held by the Gallerie (cat. 582), and the interpretation that, in turn, his brother-in-law Andrea Mantegna had provided a few years earlier in about 1485 (Madonna of the Cherubim, Milan, Pinacoteca di Brera). Chronologically, therefore, the painting came just after Mantegna’s, somewhere between 1485 and 1490, and is also intimately linked to its closest peer, the Alzano Madonna now at the Accademia Carrara, created in a phase in which Bellini was still experimenting but had not yet reached his late-century revolutionary heights, characterised by a novel harmonisation between different planes and space that would define the ensuing developments in Veneto painting.