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Me for survey.jpg

This photographic survey and the moving image I am making in dialogue with it, concerns the landscape content of the fifteenth century Venetian painting, 'St Francis in the Desert', by Giovanni Bellini.

I researched and wrote about Bellini’s use of landscape imagery in his religious paintings for my undergraduate thesis and maintain an active research interest in his St Francis painting. The multitude of landscapes described within the panel, the exactitude and brightness of the botanical species, the elusive activity of the figures, curiously contradicts the position of landscape as a secondary element in religious painting in the late medieval period. How this imagery was created remains a deep fascination for me and I hope my practice based research project will fill visual gaps in the historical evidence we have on the creation of Bellini's oeuvre.

Central to this project is my belief that Bellini's image making involved a number of visual methodologies, including journeys to landscapes outside of Venice to conceive of landscape imagery for his work. Bellini's studio was based in Venice, a city surrounded by water, without any immediate access to the kind of broad landscape views and rocky morphology described in the St Francis painting. How Bellini created such a work is therefore unclear, particularly as we have very few historical documents and sources which explain the work's creation. My practice based research offers visual clarity, in partnership with art historical research, on how Bellini may have looked and what he saw as significant in the subject of landscape itself.

The act of tracing Bellini's journeys to landscapes within the Veneto and other regions in Italy with a camera is central to research method. Click on the tiles below to explore my survey and view a preview of my moving image. When complete, I will reveal links between Bellini's landscape imagery and a number of specific landscapes in Italy, supported with primary evidence. Click here to also explore my photographic survey of landscapes outside of Venice associated with this beautiful, enigmatic painting.

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