Giovanni Bellini was born in Venice. He was brought up in his fathers house, and always lived and worked in the closest fraternal relation with his brother Gentile. Up until the age of nearly thirty we find in his work a depth of religious feeling and human pathos which is his own. His paintings from the early period are all executed in the old tempera method: the scene is softened by a new and beautiful effect of romantic sunrise color (as, for example, in the St. Jerome in the Desert).
In a changed and more personal manner, he drew Dead Christ pictures (In these days one of the masters most frequent themes e.g. Dead Christ Supported by the Madonna and St. John, or Pietà). with less harshness of contour, a broader treatment of forms and draperies and less force of religious feeling. Giovannis early works have often been linked both compositionally and stylistically to those of his brother-in-law, Andrea Mantegna.