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Domenico Ghirlandaio

Domenico Ghirlandaio

(1449 - 1494)
Born: Florence, Italy
Style: Early Renaissance
Famous Works:
  • Last Supper (1480)
  • Baptism of Christ (c. 1486-90)
  • Old Man with his Grandson (c. 1490)
Domenico Ghirlandaio's brief but prolific work as a painter of frescoes and portraits represents the currents of Florence at the end of the fifteenth century. Florence was enjoying its height of wealth and power during the artist's career, allowing the city's golden boy to profit from his popularity and professionalism. He excelled at portraying the grandeur of life in Florence through his portraits. The aristocracy sat for him, often in profile, in their finery, displaying the cultivated beauty and extreme interest in humanism of the era through their manner and gestures. A wealthy Florentine patron, Giovanni Tornabuoni, commissioned Ghirlandaio's fresco cycle in the choir of the Santa Maria Novella. This central work of his career illustrates the life of the Virgin and Saint John the Baptist. One scene, the Birth of the Virgin is a veritable snapshot of how the wealthy lived. The patron's daughter is the main character of the drama, usurping even the Virgin's entrance into the world. They are seen in procession in a dazzlingly beautiful room set in intarsia (wood inlay) and sculpture. Ghirlandaio's paintings sparkle with color and detail. While not including any revelatory innovations, Ghirlandaio's career is remarkable for his ability to combine and synthesize the achievements of various artists before him. His paintings include clear spatial organization, concern with depth and one-point perspective, and a clear and rational order, all cornerstones of the Early Renaissance.
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