Gentile Bellini

The master of ceremonies

Procession of the True Cross, Gentile Bellini

Gentile (1429–1507), elder son of Jacopo and brother of Giovanni, famous for his detailed depictions of Venetian ceremonies and narrative histories (Procession of the Relic of the True Cross, Accademia) and his portrait of Sultan Mehmet II, now in the National Gallery in London, painted during a sojourn in Istanbul. (At one point the latter presented him with the head of a freshly decapitated criminal, to help him paint a scene of St John the Baptist. At this point Gentile asked to go home and, showing no hard feelings, the Sultan sent him back to Venice with a beautiful gold chain.)

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