San Zaccaria Altarpiece; Giovanni Bellini (1505)

     San Zaccaria Altarpiece

Giovanni Bellini 





The San Zaccaria Altarpiece (Madonna Enthroned with Child and Saints) is a painting, executed in 1505, by the Italian Renaissance painter Giovanni Bellini. Now is located in the church of San Zaccaria, Venice.

The painting may be the most important example of a sacra conversazione scene in Italian Renaissance painting. The sacra conversazione, was a type of picture showing the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child among various saints from different periods of time. Sometimes these saints seem to communicate with each other, and sometimes with us, the viewers. This painting, Bellini treated with a particularly high level of delicacy, vibrant colors, realistic forms, and illusionistic architectural space. In the San Zaccaria Altarpiece, the mood is one of quiet and restrained contemplation as all the figures are demure as they stand beside the Virgin and Child as the angel performs a serenade with a violin at their feet.

The composition Bellini used for the painting draws upon the Renaissance tradition of pyramidal groupings of figures. Here, the most important figures are the Virgin and Christ Child, who form the apex of the pyramid. For Bellini, the painted, fictive architecture complements the high degree of realism and saturated colors to create a serene scene which is ripe for contemplation.

This art piece is directly connected to the theme of realism because itself is realistically painted. There are emotions on people faces, that make us feel the feelings they felt. There are also other characteristics of the Realism’s paintings in the time of renaissance shown, such as depth and symmetry of the place… There are also vibrant colors, realistic forms, and illusionistic architectural space. Plus, Bellini also used one-point linear perspective… Furthermore, as a symbol that we can connect to the real life can be taken that Madonna protects her child in her arms, as every mother will do in reality. Thus, the painting completely connects to the theme of realism.

I chose this painting because the saints are from different periods of time, and shows some kind of difference of what have I seen till now… The girl playing the violin gives us some sense of calmness.


  • “Bellini’s San Zaccaria Altarpiece –” N.p., 21 Aug. 2014. Web. 04 Mar. 2017.



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