The Ghirlandaio Family
Renaissance Painters in Florence and Scandicci
Castello dell’Acciaiolo, Scandicci – Italy
Through May 1st, 2011
Always used in the singular, Ghirlandaio is actually the trademark of the dynasty of such artists and entrepreneurs, who, beginning in the second half of the 15th century, dominated the scene of the Florentine Renaissance for a century. DOMENICO GHIRLANDAIO (1449-1494) was therefore the first artist in the Ghirlandaio family of which were also part his brothers DAVID GHIRLANDAIO (1452-1525) and BENEDETTO GHIRLANDAIO (1458-1497), his half-brother GIOVAMBATTISTA, his brother-in-law BASTIANO, and his son RIDOLFO GHIRLANDAIO (1483-1561). Numerous artists who were apprenticed to their school (MICHELANGELO and GRANACCI being the most renowned) contributed to spreading in Italy and Europe their fame as masterly illustrators of Florence and its civitas.
The Ghirlandaio’s workshop was above all a place with extraordinary professionals - very productive and organized according to modern criteria as to skills and roles - where Domenico and Ridolfo were the true creative masters of colour, some were extremely good at painting, and others besides expert in the workshop management.
Such a well-balanced, prolific and long-lived clan is now the focus of an extremely important exhibition, the first one on the family in its entirety, which involves the whole area from Florence to Scandicci as well as various other places in the hinterland. It is the land where the Ghirlandaio family lived and worked, rarely leaving it, disseminating it with masterpieces, so much so as to turn it into a spectacular and diffused museum.
Hence the title of the event: The Ghirlandaio Family. Renaissance Painters in Florence and Scandicci. The venues: the Castello dell’Acciaiolo in Scandicci, showcasing 15 works of art. From here visitors may follow a double itinerary leading them to large and small museums, palazzos and churches, villas and abbeys which house dozens of panel paintings, altarpieces and frescoes. Works which have mainly a religious character and represent the Madonna and Child, the nativity, the annunciation, but which also include portraits and figures that document the Florence of that time.
This implies that the exhibition is made up of a series of exhibitions and venues, ascribable to two well-known cultural projects: that of the Città degli Uffizi, conceived by Antonio Natali, director of the famous gallery, to showcase the immense artistic heritage kept in the Uffizi store rooms and promote the beautiful areas around Florence, and the Piccoli Grandi Musei one organized by the Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze with an expert committee presided over by Antonio Paolucci, which has the aim of promoting the artistic and monumental heritage of the Florentine area.
It was in honour of the Ghirlandaio family that the two aforementioned projects merged. The initiative is promoted by the Special Office for Monuments and Fine Arts of the Polo Museale Fiorentino, the Uffizi Gallery and the Municipality of Scandicci, along with the Ente Cassa di Risparmio, the Regional Office for the Cultural and Landscape Heritage of Tuscany, the Monuments and Fine Arts Office of the metropolitan area (Florence-Pistoia-Prato), the Provincial Administration of Florence, the Municipality of Florence, and the Romualdo del Bianco Foundation. It is under the sponsorship of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and involves the collaboration of the Tuscan Regional Administration, the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, the municipalities of Calenzano, Campi Bisenzio, Sesto Fiorentino, Signa and Lastra a Signa. The catalogue is published by Polistampa.
As it is known, the true surname of Domenico Ghirlandaio was Bigordi, and he and his brothers ended up being identified with the nickname of their father, an excellent goldsmith renowned for his special skill in making garlands (ghirlanda in Italian). From Scandicci, their homeland, they moved to Florence in the first half of the 15th century, and in this town, which was then the world capital of art, their workshop became established in the second half of the century. The exhibition tour starts from Scandicci. Curated by the art historian Annamaria Bernacchioni, the exhibition at the Castello dell’Acciaiolo showcases a famous painting by Domenico Ghirlandaio (Saints James, Stephen and Peter), the beautiful Madonna by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio (from the Fuligno Refectory) and another 14 works loaned by various museums in Florence.
From here two different Ghirlandaio exhibition tours start. The one in Florence includes the frescoes in the Sala dei Gigli of the Palazzo Vecchio, the Sassetti Chapel and the Tornabuoni Chapel - respectively in the churches of Santa Trinita and Santa Maria Novella - and the Adoration of the Magi at the Museo degli Innocenti. Numerous other masterpieces by such artists are in the Uffizi Gallery, the Accademia Gallery, the Palatine Gallery and in the Ognissanti and San Marco Refectories, all of which are to be visited even though not part of this specific programme.
The other tour is in the area north-west of Florence, on both sides of the Arno, abounding in works of art that the Ghirlandaio family left behind: in the houses which belonged to the family in San Martino and Colleramole, in the millenary Settimo Abbey, in the Church of Sant’Andrea in Campi Bisenzio, in the Sacred Art Museums of San Donnino and San Martino a Gangalandi. And also Mosciano, Giogoli, San Martino alla Palma, and San Colombano.
A fascinating journey in the Florentine Renaissance.
11-21-2010 / 05-01-2011