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If Giovanni Bellini had not been introduced to oil paints, the Italian Rensaissance would’ve been a dull one.

Bellini spearheaded the adoption of oil paints, slowly phasing out egg tempera as a medium. We can’t give Bellini credit for discovering oil paints, because that award goes to Jan van Eyck, the Flemish painter. And we can’t say Bellini brought oil painting to Italy either, because that was all Antonello da Messina. Bellini was just one of those influencers who adopted the medium in a big way, and the rest of his Venetian circle followed. Even Florence then abided by the technique Bellini put in place. 

The Bellinis had been painting since the early renaissance. Giovanni’s father, Jacopo, his brother, Gentile, and brother-in-law, Andrea Mantegnawere all prolific painters. Giovanni was lucky to be born in the right house. It was perfect for artistic innovation, and Giovanni did not disappoint. He made a good team with his brother, Gentile. They painted together for as long as they could.

In 1507 Gentile died and Giovanni lost a brother...or did he? At the end of her life, Jacopo’s wife didn’t leave Giovanni anything in her will. A few theories suggest that Giovanni wasn’t Jacopo’s son, but his half-brother. Did Jacopo’s wife have to pretend to be Giovanni’s mum too? That would’ve been very confusing for Giovanni. “Is Jacopo my dad or my brother? Is Gentile my brother or my nephew?" If he only knew of the games we were playing with his biography.

Giovanni Bellini also found fame in teaching some of the best artists of a generation that was to succeed him. Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, Giorgione, some of the most illustrious artists of the Venetian school, were all taught by Giovanni. Sure, some of them got too big for Bellini (read Titian and Tintoretto). But they all owe their introduction of the medium to Giovanni Bellini, son or brother of Jacopo Bellini.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Giovanni Bellini

Giovanni Bellini (Italian pronunciation: [dʒoˈvanni belˈliːni]; c. 1430 – 26 November 1516) was an Italian Renaissance painter, probably the best known of the Bellini family of Venetian painters. He was raised in the household of Jacopo Bellini, formerly thought to have been his father, but now that familial generational relationship is questioned. An older brother, Gentile Bellini was more highly regarded than Giovanni during his lifetime, but the reverse is true today. His brother-in-law was Andrea Mantegna.

Giovanni Bellini was considered to have revolutionized Venetian painting, moving it toward a more sensuous and colouristic style. Through the use of clear, slow-drying oil paints, Giovanni created deep, rich tints and detailed shadings. His sumptuous coloring and fluent, atmospheric landscapes had a great effect on the Venetian painting school, especially on his pupils Giorgione and Titian.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Giovanni Bellini