Portrait of Joerg Fugger
Giovanni Bellini (Italian, c.1430-1516)
On View

Jeorg Fugger, the heir of a wealthy German banking family, was born in Augsburg in 1453. Depicted here at age 21, he wears in his hair a garland of small blue blossoms, which designates him as a student of ancient learning. This portrait is notable on several accounts: it is the first known portrait by Giovanni Bellini, the greatest Venetian painter of the early Italian Renaissance. It is also one of the first paintings by an Italian artist executed in oil rather than tempera. Further, the portrait’s objective realism departs from the stiff, stylized, late-Gothic tradition of portraiture that then prevailed in Venice.

Bellini’s compositional and stylistic innovations can be traced to a variety of local Italian sources, including his brother-in-law, Andrea Mantegna, and his father, Jacopo. He also demonstrates an awareness of the work of a Southern Italian painter, Antonello da Messina, who was himself present in Venice in the mid-1470s. It is unclear whether this latter artist’s work informed Bellini directly, or whether both drew from Northern European influences that were already present in Italy by the mid-fifteenth century. Works by Rogier van der Weyden, Hugo van der Goes, Jan van Eyck, Petrus Christus, Dieric Bouts and Hans Memling were certainly commissioned by Italian patrons and were readily available to Bellini, who, especially in his portraiture, emulated the three-quarter rather than profile view, set against a neutral background or later alla fiamminga, that is, “in the Flemish style,” with sky and landscape. Bellini’s portrait of the young Fugger, who resided in Venice in 1474, when this panel was commissioned, marks the seminal moment that would inform portrait painting, as well as devotional images, in Italy for the next generation of artists such as Raphael, Leonardo, and Fra Bartolomeo who followed in his creative wake.

Until a restoration of the panel was undertaken in the early 20th century, the back of the painting bore this inscription, written in a Venetian dialect: Jeorg Fugger a di XX di Zugno MCCCCLXXIIII [Jeorg Fugger on this day of 20 June 1474].


  • Artist Name: Giovanni Bellini (Italian, c.1430-1516)
  • Title: Portrait of Joerg Fugger
  • Date: 1474
  • Medium: Oil on panel
  • Dimensions: 10-1/4 x 7-7/8 in. (26 x 20 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation
  • Accession Number: M.1969.13.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

Johannes, Count of Fugger-Oberkirchberg, Castle Oberkirchberg, Ulm.
Walter C. Schnackenberg, Munich and Monaco, until Dec. 10, 1926 when sold to;
[F. Kleinberger and Co., New York (stock no. 15773) and Paris, 1926 – sold May 17, 1928 for $40,000 to];
Conte Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi, Florence, by inheritance to;
Heirs of the Contini-Bonacossi Estate, Florence, by inheritance to;
[Lorenzo Papi, Florence];
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

Exhibition of Italian Art, 1200-1900

  • Burlington House (London, England), 1930-01-01 to 1930-03-08
Beck, James, Perspectives, nos. 53-56 pp. 278-280
Hendy, P; and L. Goldscheider, Giovanni Bellini, p. 27
Luchinat, Cristina Acidini; Luciano Bellosi, Miklxós Boskovits, Pier Paolo Donati, Bruno Santi, Scritti per L'istituto Germanico di Storia dell'arte di Firenze, p. 199
Gendel, M., Art News, p. 23
Renaissance Venice and the North: Crosscurrents in the Time of Bellini, Dürer, and Titian, p. 121, 337
Marle, R. van, The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting, p. 254
Elizabeth Perkins, Examining Giovanni Bellini: An Art 'More Human and More Divine', pp. 131, 138 (no. 2), and footnotes
DeWald, E., Italian Paintings (1200-1600), p. 466
Goffen, Rona, Giovanni Bellini, figs. 150-151 pp. 121, 197, 200-202, 204-205, 217, 222, 259, 287, 298, 318
Brizio, A., Arte Veneta, pp. 32-33
Boskovitis, Miklos, Brown, David Alan, et al., Italian Paintings of the Fifteenth Century, p. 52, 54
Art News, p. 26
Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, p. 29
Düssler, L., Giovanni Bellini, pp. 44, 92
Pigler, A., Bulletin du Museé National Hongrois des Beau-Arts, no. 19 p. 40
Fletcher, J., The Burlington Magazine, p. 779
Lieb, N., Die Fugger und Die Kunst, fig. 12 pp. 30-31, 326-327
Humfrey, Peter, ed., Artistic Centers of the Italian Renaissance: Venice and the Veneto, fig. 241 p. 337
Sutton, D., Apollo, p. 380
Tempestini, Anchise, Giovanni Bellini, no. 26 pp. 29, 64, 70, 201, 211
Gamba, Carlo, Giovanni Bellini, p. 72
Bottari, S., Tutta la pittura di Giovanni Bellini, pp. 36-37
Tempestini, Anchise, Giovanni Bellini: Catalogo completo di dipinti, no. 24 pp. 80, 81, 158
Berenson, Bernard, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Venetian School, p. 31
Lucco, Mauro, Giovanni Bellini, pp. 77-82, and footnotes
Morse, John D., Old Master Paintings in North America, p. 15
Lill, G., Fuggerorum et Fuggerarum Imagines,
A Commemorative Catalgoue of the Exhibition of Italian Art held in the Galleries of the Royal Academy, Burlington House, London, January-March 1930, no. 167
Pope-Hennessy, John, The Portrait in the Renaissance, pp. 63, 311
Hills, P., Venedig und Oberdeutchland in der Renaissance: Beziehungen zwischen Kunst und Wirtschaft, fig. 1 pp. 123-124, 129
Mayer, August L., The Burlington Magazine, p. 219
Heinemann, F., Giovanni Bellini e i Belliniani, no. 269 p. 75; p. 158
Renato Miracco, Italian Treasures in the U.S. An Itinerary of Art, p. #40
Goffen, Rona, Small Paintings of the Masters,
Schmeckebier, L., A Handbook of Italian Renaissance Painting, p. 189
De' Giorgio, Elsa, L'eredità Contini Bonacossi: L'ambiguo rigore del vero, pp. 344-345
Robertson, G., Giovanni Bellini, pp. 58, 106-107
Caroselli, Susan L., Italian Panel Painting of the Early Renaissance in the Collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, fig. 13 pp. 18-19
Hadeln, D. von, The Burlington Magazine, p. 4
Pallucchini, R., Giovanni Bellini, pp. 60-61, 138
Han Belting, Keith Christiansen, et. al., Giovanni Bellini: Landscapes of Faith in Renaissance Venice, p. 48
Italian Paintings XIV-XVIIth Centuries: from the collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art, no. 11 pp. 131, 143
Moschini, V., Giambellino, pp. 23, 40
Humfrey, Peter, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Giovanni Bellini, pp. 15, 80, 203
Pignatti, T., L'opera completa di Giovanni Bellini, p. 94
Humphrey, Peter, Painting in Renaissance Venice, fig. 76 p. 102
Gronau, G., Giovanni Bellini, Des Meisters Gemälde, p. xxii
Fiocco, G., Giovanni Bellini, p. 14
Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, cat. 584 p. 515
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