SAN ZACCARIA ALTARPIECE

GIOVANNI BELLINI: 1505

BEFORE GETTING STARTED

Click On the Book First

Read this first for background info on a church or painting.

Click on the Icons or Numbers

to see an image of the art in that particular location.

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Leader of 12 apostles, originally a fisherman

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3. THE VM AND CHILD

The Christ Child raise his right hand, blessing the viewer.

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5. ST JEROME

One of the 4 Fathers of the Western church. He revised and translated the Bible from Greek and Hebrew sources into the Latin Vulgate.

Attributes:
crucifix, skull, lion and owl

Often seen reading or writing in his study, dressed in red robes or red hat, or as a repentant hermit in the desert who beat his chest with a stone.

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6. ANGEL/CARTOUCHE

Bellini signature is on a small cartouche to left of the angel.

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8. OSTRICH EGG/MOSAICS IN DOME

In medieval times, it was thought that the the ostrich buried its eggs in sand and allowed the heat of the sun to carry out the incubation. The babies would emerge from the eggs without parental involvement, becoming an ideal symbol of the virginity of Mary.

The lamp represents purity, since crystal glass is tangible yet also transparent.

Ostrich eggs were often suspended in Coptic churches & mosques in Egypt— apparently, something about the odor repelling spiders.?

The mosaics in the background feature the early Christian symbols of the evergreen acanthus and the eagle of glory.

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7. HEAD OF SOLOMON

The carving at the top of the throne is the head of Solomon, the son of David and Bathsheba and the third king of Israel.

Solomon was revered for his wisdom, so the carved head on Mary’s throne speaks of the Virgin and Child occupying a seat of wisdom.

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INFORMATION

This painting is called a sacra conversazione, a representation of a sacred conversation between saints, and sometimes with the audience. Speak to eachother spiritually, can be from different time periods, and usually one will point to audience.

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ARCHITECT IN PAINTING

-This is a great representation of how architecture in art is used to create space.
-Bellini placed the figures in an apse with side openings in order to make the light entering the picture appear more like daylight.
-The painted pillars are very similar to the real marble ones framing the painting.
-The painting looks like it opens out from the architectural space of the church.

-By the sixteenth century (even well before), mosaic work was hardly used except in Venice. Frescoes were not ideal because of the humidity. Mosaics, set into mortar, are more durable. Plus, Venice was the European center for glassmaking, and produced quantities of gold glass that characterize Byzantine-style mosaic work.

-Bellini’s was a master of the pictorial representation of gold-glass mosaics. The painted surface seems to shimmer and shine.

-The fig and ivy tress off to side are allegories of the cross