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Domenico Ghirlandaio

Domenico Ghirlandaio

Domenico Ghirlandaio

Domenico Ghirlandaio (1448 – 1494) was an Italian Renaissance painter born in Florence. He was part of the Florentine Renaissance, together with Verrocchio, the Pollaiolo brothers, and Sandro Botticelli.

Ghirlandaio led a large workshop that included his brothers, his brother-in-law, and later his son. Many apprentices passed through Ghirlandaio’s studio, including Michelangelo.

Ghirlandaio was talented in depicting contemporary life and people within the context of religious narratives, bringing him great popularity and many large commissions.

Virtual Tour of Domenico Ghirlandaio

Highlights Tour of Domenico Ghirlandaio

Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni

“Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni” by Domenico Ghirlandaio portrays Giovanna degli Albizzi, a Florentine noblewoman.

She died in childbirth, giving birth to her second child in 1488, and this painting was painted after her death.

Her husband, Lorenzo Tornabuoni, was deeply stricken by grief and commissioned this portrait of his wife to commemorate and honor her memory.

This panel is a powerful example of the late 1400’s Florentine portraiture. Giovanna has been identified as the subject of this portrait thanks to her other named portraits, where she has the same hairstyle.

Also, a medallion has survived, showing her likeness and her name. Giovanna is depicted in a traditional profile pose, which was favored due to its association with ancient coins and medallions. Museum: Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

An Old Man and his Grandson

“An Old Man and his Grandson” by Domenico Ghirlandaio portrays an older man in a red robe, embracing a young child who is also wearing red.

They sit in a room with a window through which can be seen as a landscape consisting of a sculptured terrain and winding roads typical of many of Ghirlandaio’s background depictions.

Although the man’s fur-lined robe and the boy’s elegant doublet and cap indicate an autocratic or wealthy family, their identities are a mystery.

The identity of the sitters is no longer known. The poignancy of the image is dramatized by the contrast between the man’s weathered and wise face, and the child’s delicate profile.

It is one of Ghirlandaio’s best-known works and is considered notable for its emotional poignancy and realism. Museum: Musée du Louvre

Michelangelo and Domenico Ghirlandaio

During Michelangelo’s childhood, a team of painters had been called from Florence to the Vatican to decorate the walls of the Sistine Chapel. Among them was Domenico Ghirlandaio.

In 1488, at age 13, Michelangelo was apprenticed to Ghirlandaio.

In 1488, at age 13, Michelangelo was apprenticed to Ghirlandaio. The next year, Ghirlandaio pay Michelangelo as an artist, which was rare for someone of fourteen years old.

When in 1489, Lorenzo de’ Medici, de facto ruler of Florence, asked Ghirlandaio for his two best pupils, Ghirlandaio sent Michelangelo and Francesco Granacci.

Michelangelo also worked in the Vatican and painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The student surpassed the Master.

Domenico Ghirlandaio (also spelled Ghirlandajo)

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Domenico Ghirlandaio


“Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I can accomplish.”
– Michelangelo


Photo Credit: 1) Domenico Ghirlandaio [Public domain]

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