Giovanni Bellini (about 1430 – 1516)

A Portrait of a Boy

Venice, about 1475

Oil on wood

38 x 23 cm

This panel originally formed the lid of an inheritance chest.

This was constructed to hold the marble bust of Angelo Probi who died in 1474. He was ambassador to Venice for the King of Naples.  The portrait therefore probably shows his son who muses sadly on his father’s fate.

The inscription on the marble ledge records that it is the work of Giovanni Bellini, the Venetian.  Bellini adds the words ‘NON ALITER’, meaning ‘not otherwise’.  This is perhaps a claim to his skill as a portraitist, someone who can preserve accurately forever what age and death destroys.

Purchased 1946 (No.46.11)