Venice, the seemingly magical floating city in northeastern Italy, is a place unlike any other. Its geography, art, architecture, music, and people have captured visitors’ hearts and imaginations for centuries. A German priest passing through the city in 1480 described it as “the mistress of the Mediterranean,” and the printer Aldus Manutius described it in 1498 as “more an entire world than a city.”
Giovanni Bellini and assistants, The Annunciation, circa 1490–1500, oil on canvas, 88 x 42 in. each, Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice, Italy
Built in the middle ages upon a cluster of marshy islands, Venice developed into one of the most prosperous and cosmopolitan urban centers of 15th-century Europe. Our spring exhibition Glory of Venice: Renaissance Paintings 1470–1520 illustrates a crucial period in the history of Venetian art and culture, widely regarded as one of the most exciting chapters in the history of Western art. It features masterworks from the world-famous Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice, including portraits, altarpieces, and secular paintings by Cima da Conegliano, Titian, Giorgione, Carpaccio, and Giovanni Bellini.
Giovanni Bellini, The Virgin with Standing Christ Child (Madonna Contarini), circa 1475–80, oil on panel, 30 3/4 x 22 7/8 in., Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice, Italy
The names Bellini and Carpaccio will be familiar not only to art historians but also to foodies with a fondness for Italian fare.
The bellini, a cocktail made of puréed white peaches and prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine, was invented in 1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani, the founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice. The rosy hue of the concoction reminded Cipriani of a color used by Giovanni Bellini, and the drink became a favorite of celebrity patrons of Harry’s Bar such as Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles, and Truman Capote. This version is courtesy of the NCMA's Iris restaurant:
Of course there are lots of ways to play with the bellini recipe, as Gravy's Cameron Stutts demonstrates:
Cipriani also created a raw beef dish inspired by the red and white colors found in the paintings of Vittore Carpaccio: thinly sliced sheets of filet mignon topped with a lace of white sauce consisting of mayonnaise and mustard.
The exhibition features six paintings by Bellini and five by Carpaccio. Buon appetito!