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Goitein, P.L. (1934). Footnote to an Allegory of Bellini. Psychoanal. Rev., 21(4):361-371.

(1934). Psychoanalytic Review, 21(4):361-371

Original Articles

Footnote to an Allegory of Bellini

P. Lionel Goitein


We have before us-in the “Allegory of the Tree of Life “-a valuable example of the sublimation of an illegitimate child; an effort to rectify (as it were) the false graft on the family tree; and to find, through her doubtful fruit, some salvation and forgiveness for the mother, in his own artistic phantasy. It may be found among the sacred masterpieces of Giovanni Bellini-the Venetian artist living from CA. 1429 to 1516 and working in the shadow of St. Mark's. Almost an entire life's artistic output (judging from extant work, and omitting a dozen or so portraits) is devoted to sacred studies of the Family, the Virgin and Child, with lesser insistence on the circumcision, crucifixion and resurrection. There are, however, five or six surviving pieces which bear evidence of mystic import to the artist (in the form of allegories), and of unconscious significance to us, from the likeness they bear to an hallucinatory dream. For one of them in particular, no satisfactory explanation has been forthcoming. The work in question is to be found in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence- the “Christian Allegory “of which a print is herewith shown.

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