Bellini and Mehmet II

Portrait of Mehmet II in 1480, attributed to Bellini (National Gellery, London)

Seated Scribe by Bellini (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston)

Venice maintained ties with the Ottomans - and several trading posts in Greece. After Byzantine Constantinople fell to Mehmet II (1453), the sultan invite Gentile Bellini to paint him and his court. The Venetian painter accepted, and produced some beautiful images.

A selection of these are currently on view at the National Gallery in London, in the exhibition "Bellini and the East" (until 25th June 2006).

Mehmet is of course the sultan who captured Athens, and turned the Parthenon into a mosque. For another mosque he built in Athens, to celebrate his conquest, see below.

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