Domenico Ghirlandaio, Christ In Heaven



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Domenico Ghirlandaio Free Bible Art Works In High Resolution Images. Click image for the largest size, then right click to save or print.

"The Nativity"
Luke 2:8

   As a result of his work on the walls of  the Sistine Chapel, the fame of Ghirlandaio spread over Italy and fairly took root in his native Florence, where the list of his pictures grew steadily and rapidly. By 1485 he had executed one of his most important commissions—the decoration of the Sassetti Chapel in Santa Trinita with frescos representing scenes from the life of St. Francis.

   The altar-piece was "The Nativity", on one side of which, it is interesting to read, was painted the kneeling figure of Francesco Sassetti, donor of the Chapel and a wealthy and influential Florentine banker, and on the other side, that of his wife.


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Domenico Ghirlandaio, The Nativity Free Images Gallery
The Nativity
Domenico Ghirlandaio c. 1482 (click on images)


Like so many of the famous artists of the Renaissance, Domenico di Tommaso di Currado Bigordi is best known to posterity by a sobriquet. The name Ghirlandaio (Ghirlandajo) derives from garlands (ghirlande) and stuck to Domenico as a souvenir of his early apprenticeship to a Florentine goldsmith "where he learned to make the beautiful garlands which earned him the name by which he was thenceforth known."

Ghirlandaio was born in 1449, two years before the birth of Botticelli and only three years before that of Leonardo da Vinci; both of whom outlived him many years, working well into the first quarter of the sixteenth century, while Ghirlandaio died six years before its opening.

Ghirlandaio, Annunciation to Zechariah Royalty Free Images Annunciation to Zechariah, 1490

Domenico Ghirlandaio Calling of Apostles 1481 Free Images Gallery Calling of the Apostles, 1481

Little is known of his youth. In 1475, when he was twenty-six, he painted certain frescos in the Vatican library at Rome; and evidently he had achieved considerable reputation in his native Florence or he would not have been commanded to join that band of famous men who were beginning to turn the Palace of the Pope into the marvelous museum of art it afterwards became. Vasari states that his frescos for the Vespucci family (of which Amerigo, the discoverer, was a member) were his first pictures, and his assertion that one of the kneeling suppliants in Ghirlandaio's "Descent from the Cross" was a portrait of Amerigo Vespucci was unquestioned until recently.

While returning from Rome to Florence a year or so later, Ghirlandaio, his brother David, and an assisting painter named Sebastiano, who was to become their brother-in-law, painted a "Last Supper" in the fabulously rich Vallombrosan monastery at Passignano. According to Vasari, the painters might have fared better with a poorer brotherhood, for "they found themselves so badly fed and lodged that David went to the abbot apologetically saying that his protest was made entirely on account of his brother, 'whose merits and abilities deserved consideration." ' Nothing fit to eat was served at their next meal, however, and "David rose in a rage, threw the soup over the friar, and seizing the great loaf from the board fell upon him therewith, and belabored him in such fashion that he was carried to his cell more dead than alive.

The abbot, who had gone to bed, arose on hearing the clamor, believing the monastery to be falling down, and finding the monk in a bad condition, began to reproach David. But the latter replied in a fury, declaring the talents of his brother to be worth more than all the hogs of abbots of his sort that had ever inhabited the monastery. The abbot being thus brought to his senses, did his best from that moment to treat them like honorable men as they were."

Ghirlandaio was far from having the poetic, dreamy nature whose material needs must be shielded and supplied by others. But he permitted nothing to interfere with his work, and Vasari says that he gave entire charge of his money and upkeep to his brother, telling him to "leave me to work, and do thou provide, for now that I have begun to get into the spirit and to comprehend the matter of this art, I grudge that they do not commission me to paint the whole circuit of the walls of Florence with stories."

In his country, as George Lafenestre observes, Ghirlandaio closed the Fifteenth Century with much of the eclat with which Masaccio opened it. He stands on the last rung of the ladder which rose from Giotto towards the great geniuses of the Renaissance, only some feet below Leonardo, his competitor, and Michel Angelo, his pupil. As such, he remains a commanding figure in Italian art.

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