Nativity Triptych, panel painting from the Bellini Workshop, Accademia Galleries


About the project

This triptych is one of four  painted for a series of chapels in Santa Maria della Carità – a church which is now part of the actual site of the Accademia Galleries. 

The triptychs were installed in a barco, an architectural structure, like a hanging choir, between sanctuary and nave, in around 1460. When the church was deconsecrated after 1797 the triptychs were dismembered and the panels dispersed to different museums.

In the absence of documentation scholars from the time of Bernard Berenson onwards have agreed that the artists were from the Bellini family – Jacopo and his sons Gentile and Giovanni. Before that they had been attributed to the Vivarini family. Archival research and conservation are now providing answers.

With the removal of discoloured varnishes and cleaning as well as non-invasive imaging and spectroscopic investigations, the fine quality of the brushwork, swiftly and confidently applied in the Nativity panel and the figures in the lunette, has been shown to be recognisably that of Giovanni Bellini.

The Accademia hopes eventually to conserve the other three triptychs as well.

Photos: Archivio Fotografico G.A.V.E/MiBACT/Matteo de Fina (top right, Nativity detail)

Project location

In brief

  • An appeal for £55,000 to fund the conservation of the Nativity Triptych was launched in July 2019 and work started the same year. 
  • This project directed by the Accademia aims to establish how the original ensemble looked, how the panels fitted together with their frame elements and the lunette, and who painted it.
  • By March 2020 treatment had reached the point where it was possible to see the very high quality of underdrawing in areas of the panels, indicating the involvement of Giovanni Bellini.
  • The triptych project is directed by  Roberta Battaglia at the Accademia and the conservator is Milena Dean
  • This is the first conservation of a major painting by the Fund for many years.
  • For information on the Accademia Galleries

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