Domenico Ghirlandaio Biography | Oil Paintings
1449 Florence, ITA – 1-11-1494 Florence, ITABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Domenico Ghirlandaio had a particular talent, his ability to depict contemporary life and portraits of contemporary people within the context of religious narratives. This brought him great popularity and many large commissions. The nickname "Il Ghirlandaio" (garland-maker) came to Domenico from his father, who was famed for creating the metallic garland-like headdresses worn by Florentine women.
Domenico Ghirlandaio was the son of Tommaso Bigordi, under whom he trained as a goldsmith; he later studied painting and the art of mosaic under his uncle Alesso Bigordi. None of his early work has survived, but from 1475 onward he was a painter of wood panels and frescoes mainly for church decoration.
In 1481 Pope Sixtus VI summoned him to Rome, where he painted a number of frescoes as well as individual religious works in which the subject was placed in a secular setting, often with figures of contemporary personalities as spectators on the sidelines. When Lorenzo de' Medici requested his two best pupils, Michelangelo and Granacci were sent by Ghirlandaio to the Medici Academy. Although Michelangelo regarded himself primarily as a sculptor, in the 16th century he was to follow his master as a painter of frescoes, at the Sistine Chapel, where Ghirlandaio had worked on the side walls.
Domenico Ghirlandaio ran a large workshop in Florence, employing many pupils one of which was the young Michelangelo, who studied painting, not sculpture.
Although these frescoes incorporate numerous portraits, there are few individual works by Domenico Ghirlandaio in this genre. The best of these, however, is the touching portrait of an Old Man and his Grandson, the identity of the sitters in unknown.
By the early 19th century the appreciation of his work had waned and it was not until 1994, the five-hundredth anniversary of the artist's death, that interest in him was rekindled. At this time a symposium was held and subsequently in-depth monographs on the artist were published on the usefulness of Ghirlandaio's paintings as pictorial records for the historian.
Art Movement History: Renaissance.
Artists Influencing Domenico Ghirlandaio: Alesso Bigordi, Andrea del Verrocchio.
Painters Domenico Ghirlandaio Influenced: Michelangelo, Francesco Granacci.
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist.