Domenico Ghirlandaio.
Florentine Fresco Painter.

  Domenico Ghirlandaio was born in 1449 under the birth name of Domenico di Thommaso di Currado Bigordi (quite a mouthful). His father traded as a goldsmith and was given the name "Ghirlandaio" or garland-maker in honour of a specific fashion he started. Domenico was apprenticed to a goldsmith and then to Alessio Baldovinetti to study painting.

He painted a large number of frescoes in various Florentine churches and 1481 he was one of several painters summoned to Rome with the task of decorating the Sistine Chapel. He painted his "Vocation of Peter and Andrew" on the right wall of the Chapel.

The artist was very skilled in the art of fresco painting and it was in his workshop that the young Michelangelo was taught the technique of painting and draughtsmanship.

Ghirlandaio depicted sacred scenes in a pleasant manner as if they had just happened among the rich and famous of Florentine society.

Eventually he became so overwhelmed with commissions that he could only complete his works with the help of assistants from his formidable workshop.  
These works mirrored the life of the period and also pleased his Medici patrons.

 He painted a life-size Last Supper in the refectory of the Church of Ognissanti in Florence and also Saint Jerome in His Study both in 1480. 

St Jerome in his Study by Domenico Ghilandaio

Saint Jerome in his Study, 1480.
Church of Ognissanti, Florence.

The Last Supper (detail) by Domenico Ghirlandaio

The Last Supper. (detail) (s)

Works in the Sassetti Chapel, Florence.

The banker Francesco Sassetti commissioned Ghirlandaio to paint frescoes in the Sassetti chapel in the church of Santa Trinita in Florence. This is considered to be the artists masterwork. The theme is the life of St Francis. 

Confirmation of the Franciscan Rule by Ghirlandaio

The Confirmation of the Franciscan Rule. (w)

 This picture contains several of the artists patrons, and includes:- On the right, in the foreground, are Sassetti's brother-in-law, the Gonfaloniere di Giustizia Antonio Pucci; Sassetti's employer, Lorenzo de' Medici; Francesco Sassetti himself and his son Federico.

Sassetti Chapel, Altar

The Chapel Altar. (s)

In this multiple scene, the "Adoration of the Shepherds" (shown below) can be seen in the
lower centre of the Altar. The top centre image is "The Confirmation of the Franciscan Rule"
(as seen above). The kneeling figure in the red robe is the patron, Francesco Sassetti. 

The Stigmata of St Francis by Ghirlandaio

The Stigmata of St. Francis. (w)

The Death of St Francis by Ghirlandaio

The Death of St. Francis. (w)

The Adoration of the Shepherds by Ghirlandaio

The Adoration of the Shepherds. (s)

This is the altarpiece and is one of the artist's greatest works, it is also my personal favourite. The shepherd on the right in the red clothing is a self-portrait of the artist.


Works in the Santa Maria Novella, Florence. (1486-1490)

The subject of his work was predominantly religious with portraits of the donor and his family and friends. Examples of this type of work can be seen in the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence.

The Expulsion of Joachim from the Temple by Ghirlandaio

The Expulsion of Joachim from the Temple. (w)

Nativity of Mary by Ghirlandaio

Nativity of Mary. (w)

The Birth of the Virgin by Ghirladaio (detail)

The Birth of the Virgin (Nativity) detail. (s)

In contrast to the usual Biblical depictions The Birth of the Virgin takes place in a typically grand Renaissance household set against a finely painted architectural backdrop. A maid cradles the child as a young woman pours water into a wash pot. The central figure, shown kneeling with one hand on the young Mary, is the work's patron Ludovica Tornabuoni. The religious subject seems to fade into the background as Ghirlandaio delights in the splendour of his decorative, contemporary, everyday Florentine masterpiece.

     Ghirlandaio died (probably of a fever) on January 11th 1494. He is buried in Santa Maria Novella.