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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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I really like these pencils. I accidentally found a technique that really exemplified the "magic" in them. Rolling the pencil to preserve the point and coloring in a circular motion really brings out the random beauty of the colors in coloring a small petaled flower like a zinnia. I have colored an entire picture with one pencil and gotten raves about it. The biggest drawback I am experiencing is the lack of tutorials to help people understand how to use them. I have seen critiques where the artist did not have a clue how to use them. I have also seen a Russian tutorial that shows a lot of blending techniques that really show some extraordinary effects. I am currently exploring their use for backgrounds. I like the pencils and find them a challenge to explore the "magic."
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