Belbello da Pavia

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St. Jerome by Belbello da Pavia, from illuminated Bible of Niccolò d'Este, Vatican Library, 1440-1450

Belbello da Pavia, also known as Luchino Belbello from Pavia, (died c. 1470), was an Italian painter and illuminator, active between 1430 and 1470.

Discovery of artist[edit]

Belbello remained unrecognized until the early twentieth century, when two scholars of art first identified him, attributing works and style. He was among the artists gravitating around the workshop of active Pavia miniaturists. His artistic tendencies were formed in the wake of Lombardy artists such as Michelino Molinari da Besozzo, as well as with an eye to the French miniaturists.

Early work[edit]

Among his early works there was the second part of the Hours of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, in which Belbello had to continue the work begun and abandoned by John de' Grassi, enriching it with an unusual chromatic fantasy style. Then he worked on a Breviary on behalf of Marie of Savoy, Duchess of Milan (1432) and the Bible Estense (1434), the latter highlighting an original expressionism and a narrative sequence.

Later work[edit]

The works of his artistic maturity, however, were a Gradual, commissioned by Cardinal Bessarion and a Roman Missal for the Mantua Cathedral, in which the forms assumed greater fullness with effects that closely resemble the baroque tendencies. He produced Illuminated manuscripts for the most prominent clients in northern Italy, using an original style inspired by the grotesque vein and expressive of the International Gothic style.


For example, in the miniatures of the Bible for Niccolò d'Este (1431-1434) painted imposing figures and solid, but flowing lines and deforming, excessive gestures and bright colors and iridescent. In this style Belbello remained faithful throughout his long career, until his death in 1470.


  • Pierluigi De Vecchi and Elda Cerchiari, The Times of art, Volume 2, Simon and Schuster, Milan 1999.
  • F.Zeri, Belbello from Pavia: A Comparison in the Psalter, III, 1950

Further reading[edit]

  • Ludovici, Sergio Samek (1954). Miniature di Belbello da Pavia. Milan: Aldo Martello Editore. (In Italian)