A number of longstanding questions have surrounded the early life of the fifteenth-century Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini (d. 1516), generally believed to have been the son of Jacopo Bellini (ca. 1400–70/71) and the younger brother of Gentile Bellini (1429/35–1507). The artist’s year of birth and the legitimacy of his birth have been the subjects of debate for well over a century. By reevaluating Bellini-related legal documents under the relevant fifteenth-century Venetian civil laws, this article makes a case that Giovanni Bellini was not Jacopo Bellini’s son, but rather his half-brother, and that they were both sons of Nicolò Bellini; that Giovanni was therefore Gentile Bellini’s uncle rather than his brother; and that he was born legitimate between the late summer of 1424 and 13 September 1428, several years earlier than the birth year of ca. 1435 (or later) favored by many contemporary Bellini specialists. The ramifications of situating Bellini’s birth year in the mid- to late 1420s are then considered.