Domenico Bigordi Ghirlandaio

Ghirlandaio, assumed name taken by a family of Florentine painters, whose real name was Bigordi. The appellation ghirlandaio ("garland maker") was first applied to Tommaso Bigordi, a 15th-century goldsmith and silversmith noted for his skill in fashioning wreaths of silver for ladies' headdresses.

Son of Tommaso, Domenico was the outstanding member of the family. He was born in Florence and studied painting and mosaic with the noted Florentine painter Alesso Baldovinetti. His style was also influenced by the Italian Renaissance artists Giotto, Masaccio, Andrea del Castagno, and Andrea del Verrocchio. Except for a period spent in Rome working for Pope Sixtus IV, Domenico Ghirlandaio lived in Florence, where he became one of the greatest masters of the Florentine school.

Ghirlandaio's keen observation, solid painting, and old-fashioned style appealed to the conservative Florentine businessmen who became patrons of Ghirlandaio's workshop. Although not an innovator, Ghirlandaio brought to its height in the 15th century the realism that is one of the dominating characteristics of that school. He painted religious frescoes and easel pictures but often introduced recognizable Florentine scenery and portraits of contemporary personages attired in the costumes of the time.

Ghirlandaio is particularly distinguished for his frescoes, among which are The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew (1481-1482, Sistine Chapel, Vatican City); his masterpiece, Scenes from the Life of St. Francis (1485, Church of Santa Trinità, Florence); and Legend of the Virgin and Life of John the Baptist (1485-1490, choir of the Church of Santa Maria Novella, Florence). He also painted altarpieces, including Adoration of the Shepherds (1485, Santa Trinità) and Virgin in Glory (1490?, Alte Pinakothek, Munich). Among his easel pictures, all painted in tempera, are Adoration of the Kings (1487, Uffizi Gallery, Florence) and Old Man with His Grandson (1480, Louvre, Paris). Among Domenico Ghirlandaio's pupils was the famous Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo. Domenico often worked with his brothers Benedetto and Davide.

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