After Giovanni Bellini

oil on canvas, 39.5 x 65 inches.
Collection of the artist

“After Giovanni Bellini” was begun in 1996 as an experiment investigating harmonic proportion through an exact scale copy of a Renaissance painting. I chose Giovanni Bellini’s “The Assassination of Saint Peter Martyr” from the National Gallery in London for my study.

"Out, out, brief candle" | The classically inspired painting "After Giovanni Bellini" by Randall Stoltzfus hangs in the background of this vanitas themed still life with a skull, cake, candle, fruit, and books. Food and prop styling by Maria Fantaci. Photo by Michael Turek
The painting “After Giovanni Bellini” hangs in the background of a vanitas themed still life arrangement with candle, cake, fruit, books and a human skull. Food and prop styling by Maria Fantaci. Photo by Michael Turek

Although the evidence of a systematic application of the Golden Section is everywhere in this composition, my efforts at an exact copy were thwarted by the discovery that the reproductions that I had available varied in proportion with the stated dimensions of the canvas in the checklist which I had used in constructing my own support. Although the difference was fairly small, the error made any assessment of the exactness of the proportions in my copy pretty difficult.

Fair enough– actual knowledge of the original dimensions of a very old painting like this is shaky at best, as time and restoration mess with the margins. After setting the work aside and letting the frustration subside, I was able to claim the painting as something more my own, and the image above was completed sometime in 1998.

Here’s what I was copying:

"The Assassination of Saint Peter Martyr," by Giovanni Bellini, probably about 1507, Egg tempera and oil on wood 99.7 x 165.1 cm, collection of The National Gallery, London
“The Assassination of Saint Peter Martyr,” by Giovanni Bellini, probably about 1507, Egg tempera and oil on wood 99.7 x 165.1 cm, collection of The National Gallery, London