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Ghirlandaio, Domenico (1449-94). Florentine
painter. He trained with Baldovinetti and
possibly with Verrocchio. His style was
solid, prosaic, and rather old-fashioned
(especially when compared with that of his
great contemporary Botticelli),
but he was an excellent
craftsman and good businessman and had one
of the most prosperous workshops in
Florence. This ran in
collaboration with his two younger brothers, Benedetto (1458-97) and Davide (1452-1525).
His largest undertaking was the fresco cycle
in the choir of Sta Maria Novella, Florence,
illustrating Scenes from the Lives of the
Virgin and St John the Baptist (1486-90).
This was commissioned by Giovanni Tornabuoni,
a partner in the Medici bank, and
Ghirlandaio depicts the sacred story as if
it had taken place in the home of a wealthy
Florentine burgher. It is this talent for
portraying the life and manners of his time
(he often included portraits in his
religious paintings) that has made him
popular with many visitors to Florence. But Domenico Ghirlandaio also had
considerable skill in the management of complex compositions and a certain
grandeur of conception that sometimes hints at the High Renaissance.
worked on frescos in Pisa, San Gimignano,
and Rome (in the Sistine Chapel) as well as
in Florence, and his studio produced
numerous altarpieces. Domenico Ghirlandaio also painted
portraits, the finest of which is Old Man
and his Grandson (Louvre); this depicts the
grandfather's diseased features with
ruthless realism, but has a remarkable air
of tenderness. Ghirlandaio's son and pupil
(1483-1561) was a friend of Raphael
a portrait painter of some distinction. His
most famous pupil, however, was Michelangelo.