Domenico Ghirlandaio

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Ghirlandaio, Domenico


(pseudonym of Domenico di Tommaso Bigordi). Born 1449 in Florence; died there Jan. 11, 1494. Italian painter of the early Renaissance; representative of the Florentine school. Son of a jeweler.

Ghirlandaio studied under A. Baldovinetti, and in works of his early period (for example, the frescoes in the church at San Gimignano, c. 1475), was influenced by a number of 15th-century Florentine and Dutch masters. In 1481-82, Ghirlandaio journeyed to Rome, where he did the fresco Christ Calling Saints Peter and Andrew in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel.

Study of classical art influenced Ghirlandaio’s mature style. His works from the middle of the 1480’s to the 1490’s (including fresco cycles on themes from the lives of St. Francis, Mary, and John the Baptist, in the Sassetti Chapel of the church at Santa Trinitá, 1483-86, and in the church of Santa Maria Novella, 1485-90, in Florence) are typical of his architectonic clarity of composition and of the calm solemnity of treatment of his subjects. Well-defined in spatial structure, elegant and softly restrained in coloring, Ghirlandaio’s frescoes, in which the action unfolds against a background of the squares and buildings of Florence, abound in genre details and offer a rich picture of Florentine life. He included many portraits of his contemporaries in these frescoes, including likenesses of Lorenzo the Magnificent, A. Poliziano, and M. Ficino. Ghirlandaio also did a number of easel paintings, such as the Adoration of the Magi (1485; church of Santa Trinitá, Florence), and portraits, in which the immediacy of observation is combined with both an ability to generalize and a profound humanity (such as in An Old Man and His Grandson at the Louvre, Paris).


Lauts, J. Domenico Ghirlandajo. Vienna, 1943.