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Domenico Ghirlandaio, Portrait of Dante

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Biography
DOMENICO GHIRLANDAIO
Ghirlandaio or Ghirlandajo, Domenico 1449–94, Florentine painter, whose family name was Bigordi. He may have studied painting and mosaics under Alesso Baldovinetti. Ghirlandaio was an excellent technician. Keenly observant of the contemporary scene, he depicted many prominent Florentine personalities within his religious narrative paintings. Among his earliest frescoes are the Madonna with the Vespucci Family and the Last Supper (Church of the Ognissanti, Florence). He painted scenes from the life of Santa Fina (collegiate church in San Gimigniano) and frescoes in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. In 1481, Pope Sixtus IV called him to Rome, along with Botticelli, to decorate the Sistine Chapel. He painted the Calling of the First Apostles, a scene close in spirit to Masaccio. He returned to Florence to work on the frescoes in the Sassetti Chapel in Santa Trinita. He introduced Sassetti, Corsi, Poliziano, the Medici, and many other contemporaries as participants in the life of St. Francis.

Ghirlandaio's most famous achievement is his fresco cycle of the life of Mary and St. John the Baptist for the choir of Santa Maria Novella. Michelangelo served an apprenticeship with him at this time and probably worked on these frescoes. Other examples of his art are the Adoration of the Magi (Uffizi); another Adoration (Hospital of the Innocents); a mosaic of the Annunciation for the Cathedral; a portrait of Francesco Sassetti and his son (Metropolitan Mus.); a portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni (Morgan Lib., New York City); and the highly realistic portrayal of Grandfather and Grandson (Louvre).

Used with permission. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Copyright © 2001 Columbia University Press