Domenico Ghirlandaio

Domenico Ghirlandaio

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Domenico Ghirlandaio was an Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 painter from Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

. Among his many apprentices was Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

.

Early years


Ghirlandaio's full name is given as Domenico di Tommaso di Currado di Doffo Bigordi. The occupation of his father Tommaso Bigordi and his uncle Antonio in 1451 was given as "'setaiuolo a minuto,' that is, dealers of silks and related objects in small quantities." He was the eldest of six children born to Tommaso Bigordi by his first wife Mona Antonia; of these, only Domenico and his brothers and collaborators Davide
Davide Ghirlandaio
Davide Ghirlandaio , also known as David Ghirlandaio and as Davide Bigordi, was an Italian painter and mosaicist, active in his native Florence....

 and Benedetto
Benedetto Ghirlandaio
Benedetto Ghirlandaio was an Italian painter. His brothers Davide Ghirlandaio and Domenico Ghirlandaio were both painters, as was his nephew Ridolfo Ghirlandaio...

 survived childhood. Tommaso had two more children by his second wife, also named Antonia, whom he married in 1464. Domenico's half-sister Alessandra (b. 1475) married the painter Bastiano Mainardi
Bastiano Mainardi
Bastiano Mainardi was an Italian painter born in San Gimignano.Much of his biography is known from the writings of Giorgio Vasari...

 in 1494.

Domenico was at first apprenticed to a jeweller or a goldsmith
Goldsmith
A goldsmith is a metalworker who specializes in working with gold and other precious metals. Since ancient times the techniques of a goldsmith have evolved very little in order to produce items of jewelry of quality standards. In modern times actual goldsmiths are rare...

, most likely his own father. The nickname "Il Ghirlandaio" (garland-maker) came to Domenico from his father, a goldsmith who was famed for creating the metallic garland
Garland
A garland is a class of decoration, of which there are many types.Garland may also refer to:-Places:*Garland, Arkansas, a town in Miller County*Garland County, Arkansas*Garland, Maine, a town in Penobscot County...

-like necklaces worn by Florentine women. In his father's shop, Domenico is said to have made portraits of the passers-by, and he was eventually apprenticed to Alessio Baldovinetti
Alessio Baldovinetti
Alesso Baldovinetti was an Italian early Renaissance painter.-Biography:Baldovinetti was born in Florence to a family of a rich merchant. In 1448 he was registered as a member of the Guild of St...

 to study painting and mosaic
Mosaic
Mosaic is the art of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials. It may be a technique of decorative art, an aspect of interior decoration, or of cultural and spiritual significance as in a cathedral...

. According to Gunter Passavent he was apprenticed in Florence to Andrea del Verrocchio
Andrea del Verrocchio
Andrea del Verrocchio , born Andrea di Michele di Francesco de' Cioni, was an Italian sculptor, goldsmith and painter who worked at the court of Lorenzo de' Medici in Florence in the early renaissance. Few paintings are attributed to him with certainty, but a number of important painters were...

.

First works in Florence, Rome and Tuscany


In 1480, Ghirlandaio painted the St. Jerome in His Study and other frescoes in the Church of Ognissanti, Florence
Church of Ognissanti, Florence
The Chiesa di Ognissanti is a Franciscan church in Florence, Italy. Founded by the lay order of the Umiliati, the church was dedicated to all the saints and martyrs, known and unknown....

, and a life-sized Last Supper in its refectory. From 1481 to 1485, he was employed on fresco
Fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

es in the Sala dell'Orologio of the Palazzo Vecchio
Palazzo Vecchio
The Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence, Italy. This massive, Romanesque, crenellated fortress-palace is among the most impressive town halls of Tuscany...

. He also painted the Apotheosis
Apotheosis
Apotheosis is the glorification of a subject to divine level. The term has meanings in theology, where it refers to a belief, and in art, where it refers to a genre.In theology, the term apotheosis refers to the idea that an individual has been raised to godlike stature...

 of St. Zenobius, an over-life-sized work with an elaborate architectural framework, figures of Roman heroes, and other secular details, striking in its perspective and structural/compositional skill.

In 1483, Ghirlandaio was summoned to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 by Pope Sixtus IV
Pope Sixtus IV
Pope Sixtus IV , born Francesco della Rovere, was Pope from 1471 to 1484. His accomplishments as Pope included the establishment of the Sistine Chapel; the group of artists that he brought together introduced the Early Renaissance into Rome with the first masterpiece of the city's new artistic age,...

 to paint a wall fresco in the Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel is the best-known chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in Vatican City. It is famous for its architecture and its decoration that was frescoed throughout by Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio...

, Vocation of the Apostles; also attributed to him is the Crossing of the Red Sea, although more likely executed by Cosimo Rosselli
Cosimo Rosselli
Cosimo Rosselli was an Italian painter of the Quattrocento, active mainly in his birthplace of Florence.-Biography:Born in Florence, at the age of fourteen he became a pupil of Neri di Bicci, and in 1460 he worked as assistant to his cousin Bernardo di Stefano Rosselli...

 or Biagio d'Antonio
Biagio d'Antonio
Biagio d’Antonio Tucci was an Italian Renaissance painter whose style was influenced by Filippo Lippi, Andrea Verrocchio and Domenico Ghirlandaio.-Biography:Biagio was born in Florence....

. Although he is known to have created other works in Rome, they have been for centuries considered lost to history. He also produced frescoes, dated before 1485, for Cappella di Santa Fina, in the Tuscan
Tuscany
Tuscany is a region in Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.75 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence ....

 Collegiata di San Gimignano
Collegiata di San Gimignano
thumb|300px|View of the Collegiata.The Collegiata is the main church of San Gimignano, Tuscany, central Italy, situated in the Piazza del Duomo at the town's heart. It was once the Duomo , but since San Gimignano no longer has a bishop it has reverted to the status of a collegiate church.The first...

 which came under the rule of nearby Siena
Siena
Siena is a city in Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the province of Siena.The historic centre of Siena has been declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. It is one of the nation's most visited tourist attractions, with over 163,000 international arrivals in 2008...

 at the beginning of the 1350s. His future brother-in-law, Sebastiano Mainardi, assisted him with these commissions in Rome and in San Gimignano.

Later works in Tuscany


Back in Florence in 1485, Ghirlandaio painted fresco cycles in the Sassetti Chapel of Santa Trinita
Santa Trinita
Santa Trinita is a church in central Florence, Italy. It is the mother church of the Vallumbrosan Order of monks, founded in 1092 by a Florentine nobleman...

 for the donor and banker Francesco Sassetti
Francesco Sassetti
Francesco Sassetti was an Italian banker.-Biography:He was born in Florence, the youngest son of Tommaso Sassetti. He is first recorded as joining the famous Medici bank in either 1438 or 1439 as a factor to the Avignon branch, employed by Cosimo de' Medici...

, the powerful manager of the branch of the Medici bank
Medici bank
The Medici Bank was a financial institution created by the Medici family in Italy during the 15th century. It was the largest and most respected bank in Europe during its prime. There are some estimates that the Medici family was, for a period of time, the wealthiest family in Europe...

 in Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

, a position subsequently filled by Giovanni Tornabuoni
Giovanni Tornabuoni
thumb|right|[[Donor portrait]] of Giovanni Tornabuoni in the [[Tornabuoni Chapel]], by Domenico Ghirlandaio.Giovanni Tornabuoni was an Italian merchant, banker and patron of the arts from Florence....

, Ghirlandaio's future patron. In the chapel, Ghirlandaio painted six scenes from the life of Saint Francis
Francis of Assisi
Saint Francis of Assisi was an Italian Catholic friar and preacher. He founded the men's Franciscan Order, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the lay Third Order of Saint Francis. St...

, including Saint Francis obtaining from Pope Honorius the Approval of the Rules of His Order, Death and Obsequies and Resuscitation, by the interposition of the beatified saint, a child of the Spini family, who died as a result of a fall from a window. The first work depicts a portrait of Lorenzo de' Medici
Lorenzo de' Medici
Lorenzo de' Medici was an Italian statesman and de facto ruler of the Florentine Republic during the Italian Renaissance. Known as Lorenzo the Magnificent by contemporary Florentines, he was a diplomat, politician and patron of scholars, artists and poets...

, and the third, the painter's own likeness, which he also included in one of his pictures in the Santa Maria Novella as well as in the Adoration of the Magi
Adoration of the Magi (Ospedale degli Innocenti)
The Adoration of the Magi is a painting by the Italian Renaissance master Domenico Ghirlandaio, executed around 1485-1488 and housed in the Ospedale degli Innocenti gallery in Florence, Italy...

in the Ospedale degli Innocenti
Ospedale degli Innocenti
The Ospedale degli Innocenti is a historical building in Florence, central Italy. Designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, who received the commission in 1419, it was originally a children's orphanage. It is regarded as a notable example of early Italian Renaissance architecture...

 orphanage. The altarpiece
Altarpiece
An altarpiece is a picture or relief representing a religious subject and suspended in a frame behind the altar of a church. The altarpiece is often made up of two or more separate panels created using a technique known as panel painting. It is then called a diptych, triptych or polyptych for two,...

 from the Sassetti chapel, the Adoration of the Shepherds, is now in the Florentine Academy
Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze
The Accademia di Belle Arti is an art academy in Florence, Italy and it is now the operative branch of the still existing Accademia delle Arti del Disegno that was the first academy of drawing in Europe.-History:The Accademia delle Arti del Disegno The Accademia di Belle Arti ("Academy of Fine...

.

Immediately after this commission, Ghirlandaio was asked to renew the frescoes in the choir of Santa Maria Novella, which formed the chapel of the Ricci family, but the Tornabuoni and Tornaquinci families, which were much more prominent than the Ricci, undertook the cost of the restoration, with conditions—the question of preserving the arms of the Ricci gave rise to what some historians described as amusing litigation. The Tornabuoni Chapel
Tornabuoni Chapel
The Tornabuoni Chapel is the main chapel in the church of Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy. It is famous for the extensive and well-preserved fresco cycle on its walls, one of the most complete in the city, which was created by Domenico Ghirlandaio and his workshop between 1485 and...

 frescoes, by Ghirlandaio and many assistants, were painted in four courses along the three walls, the main subjects being the lives of the Madonna and St. John the Baptist. These works are particularly interesting in that they include many historical portraits, a genre in which Ghirlandaio was preeminently skilled.

In this cycle, there are no fewer than twenty-one portraits of the Tornabuoni and Tornaquinci families–in the Angel appearing to Zacharias, portraits of Politian, Marsilio Ficino
Marsilio Ficino
Marsilio Ficino was one of the most influential humanist philosophers of the early Italian Renaissance, an astrologer, a reviver of Neoplatonism who was in touch with every major academic thinker and writer of his day, and the first translator of Plato's complete extant works into Latin...

 and others; in the Salutation of Anna and Elizabeth, the beautiful Giovanna Tornabuoni (identified (incorrectly) by Giorgio Vasari
Giorgio Vasari
Giorgio Vasari was an Italian painter, writer, historian, and architect, who is famous today for his biographies of Italian artists, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing.-Biography:...

 as Ginevra de Benci); in the Expulsion of Joachim
Joachim
Saint Joachim was the husband of Saint Anne and the father of Mary, the mother of Jesus in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican traditions. The story of Joachim and Anne appears first in the apocryphal Gospel of James...

 from the Temple
, Sebastiano Mainardi and Alessio Baldovinetti
Alessio Baldovinetti
Alesso Baldovinetti was an Italian early Renaissance painter.-Biography:Baldovinetti was born in Florence to a family of a rich merchant. In 1448 he was registered as a member of the Guild of St...

(some art historians have surmised that the latter figure may be the likeness of Ghirlandaio's father). The Tornabuoni Chapel was completed in 1490; the altarpiece was probably executed with the assistance of Domenico's brothers, Davide
Davide Ghirlandaio
Davide Ghirlandaio , also known as David Ghirlandaio and as Davide Bigordi, was an Italian painter and mosaicist, active in his native Florence....

 and Benedetto
Benedetto Ghirlandaio
Benedetto Ghirlandaio was an Italian painter. His brothers Davide Ghirlandaio and Domenico Ghirlandaio were both painters, as was his nephew Ridolfo Ghirlandaio...

; the painted window was from Domenico's own design.

Other distinguished works from Ghirlandaio's hand are an altarpiece in tempera
Tempera
Tempera, also known as egg tempera, is a permanent fast-drying painting medium consisting of colored pigment mixed with a water-soluble binder medium . Tempera also refers to the paintings done in this medium. Tempera paintings are very long lasting, and examples from the 1st centuries AD still exist...

 of the Virgin Adored by Saints Zenobius, Justus and Others, painted for the church of Saint Justus, and considered a remarkable masterpiece—in modern times it has been in the Uffizi
Uffizi
The Uffizi Gallery , is a museum in Florence, Italy. It is one of the oldest and most famous art museums of the Western world.-History:...

 gallery. Christ in Glory with Romuald
Romuald
Saint Romuald was the founder of the Camaldolese order and a major figure in the eleventh-century "Renaissance of eremitical asceticism"....

 and Other Saints
, in the Badia of Volterra
Volterra
Volterra, known to the ancient Etruscans as Velathri, to the Romans as Volaterrae, is a town and comune in the Tuscany region of Italy.-History:...

; and the Visitation (Louvre
Louvre
The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...

) which bears the last ascertained date (1491) of all his works. Ghirlandaio did not often attempt the nude—one of his pictures including nudes, Vulcan and His Assistants Forging Thunderbolts, was painted for Lorenzo II de' Medici, but, as in the case of several others specified by Giorgio Vasari
Giorgio Vasari
Giorgio Vasari was an Italian painter, writer, historian, and architect, who is famous today for his biographies of Italian artists, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing.-Biography:...

, no longer exists. The mosaics that he produced date before 1491—one, of special note, is the Annunciation, on a portal of the cathedral of Florence.

Critical assessment and legacy


Ghirlandaio's compositional schema were simultaneously grand and decorous, in keeping with 15th century's restrained and classicizing experimentation. His chiaroscuro
Chiaroscuro
Chiaroscuro in art is "an Italian term which literally means 'light-dark'. In paintings the description refers to clear tonal contrasts which are often used to suggest the volume and modelling of the subjects depicted"....

, in the sense of realistic shading and three-dimensionalism, was reasonably advanced, as were his perspectives, which he designed on a very elaborate scale by eye alone, without the use of sophisticated mathematics. His color is more open to criticism, but such evaluation applies less to the frescoes than the tempera paintings, which are sometimes too broadly and crudely bright. His frescoes were executed entirely in buon fresco
Buon fresco
Buon fresco is a fresco painting technique in which alkaline resistant pigments, ground in water, are applied to plaster when it is still wet, as opposed to fresco-secco...

which, in Italian art terminology, refers to abstention from additions in tempera.

A certain hardness of outline may attest to his early training in metal work. Vasari states that Ghirlandaio was the first to abandon, in great part, the use of gilding in his pictures, representing by genuine painting any objects supposed to be gilded; yet this claim is not applicable to his entire oeuvre, since the landscape highlights in, as an example, the Adoration of the Shepherds located, in modern age, at the Florence Academy
Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze
The Accademia di Belle Arti is an art academy in Florence, Italy and it is now the operative branch of the still existing Accademia delle Arti del Disegno that was the first academy of drawing in Europe.-History:The Accademia delle Arti del Disegno The Accademia di Belle Arti ("Academy of Fine...

, were rendered in gold leaf. Those of his drawings and sketches which can be observed and studied at the Uffizi gallery, are considered particularly remarkable for their naturalistic vigor of outline.

One of the great legacies of Ghirlandaio is that he is commonly credited with having given some early art education to Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

, who cannot, however, have remained with him long. Francesco Granacci
Francesco Granacci
Francesco Granacci was an Italian painter of the Renaissance.Born at Villamagna di Volterra, he trained in Florence in the studio of Domenico Ghirlandaio, and was employed painting frescoes for San Marco on commission of Lorenzo de'Medici...

 is another among his best-known pupils.

Ghirlandaio died of "pestilential fever" and was buried in Santa Maria Novella. The day and month of his birth remain undocumented, but he is recorded as having died in early January of his forty-fifth year. He had been twice married and left six children. One of his three sons, Ridolfo Ghirlandaio, also became a noted painter. Although he had a long line of descendants, the family died out in the 17th century, when its last members entered monasteries.

External links


, 122 works by Domenico Ghirlandaio