Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ghirlandaio, Domenico

Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints
Tempera on wood
191 x 200 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy

Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494, original name Domenico di Tommaso Bighordi) was an Italian early Renaissance painter of the Florentine school noted for his detailed narrative frescoes, which include many portraits of leading citizens in contemporary dress. Among his many apprentices was Michelangelo.

He was the son of a goldsmith, and his nickname "Il Ghirlandaio" (garland-maker)" was derived from his father's skill in making garlands. His father was famed for creating the metallic garland-like necklaces worn by Florentine women. He probably began as an apprentice in his father's shop, but almost nothing is known about his training as a painter or the beginnings of his career. In his father's shop, Ghirlandaio is said to have made portraits of the passers-by, and he was eventually apprenticed to Alessio Baldovinetti to study painting and mosaic.

Ghirlandaio never received a major commission from the Medici family or from any other leading patrons. In the late 19th century, however, because of the high degree of realism in his work, he was ranked as a leading Florentine painter of the 15th century. Although during much of the 20th century the greater imaginative power of Botticelli or Filippino Lippi made Ghirlandaio's paintings seem dull, since the 1960s the honesty and truth of his works have brought him back into critical favour.