Domenico Ghirlandaio Free Bible
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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 (1449 - 1494)
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.
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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