Title of Artwork: “The Agony in the Garden”
Artwork by Giovanni Bellini
Year Created c.1459 – c.1465
Summary of The Agony in the Garden
Giovanni Bellini, an Italian Renaissance painter, painted The Agony in the Garden around 1459–65. To see it, head to London’s National Gallery.
It shows Jesus praying while Peter, James, and John rest nearby on the Mount of Olives.
A comparable painting by Bellini’s brother-in-law Andrea Mantegna can also be found in the National Gallery. Both were probably inspired by a sketch made by Jacopo Bellini, the elder. The treatment of morning light plays a larger role in Bellini’s version, creating a surreal vibe.
Until the middle of the nineteenth century, most art collectors saw works from the Early Renaissance as oddities. This painting originally belonged to Consul Smith in Venice (d. 1770), was purchased by William Beckford at the Joshua Reynolds sale in 1795 for £5, and then sold in 1823 along with Fonthill Abbey before being repurchased by Beckford the following year (as a Mantegna) for £52.10s. The National Gallery paid £630 for it in 1863, a relatively cheap sum for that time.