CIHA 2016 in Beijing
34th World Congress of Art HistoryAbout History Press Release Sessions Schedule Activities Participants Venue Discussion Registration Closed
In the Shadow of Domenico: The Workshop Strategy of the Ghirlandaio Brothers
Session 5 Self-Awareness or Self-Affirmation
Domenico Ghirlandaio and his brother Davide ran one of the most successful workshops in Renaissance Florence. Documentary evidence suggests that Davide was more a partner than a mere assistant in the Ghirlandaio workshop, but his life-long association with Domenico has made it difficult to recognize Davide’s own artistic contour. This paper investigates Davide’s role in the Ghirlandaio workshop and contributes to discussions about workshop activities and individual artists, with particular attention to their self-awareness and self-affirmation. Comparisons with a few portraits attributed to Davide demonstrates that he was extensively engaged in the Sassetti Chapel frescoes. In the murals, the presence of his portrait next to his brother’s further indicates his active engagement in the work. On the other hand, in the Innocenti altarpiece, only Domenico is portrayed. Like many other works from the Ghirlandaio workshop, this altarpiece was a collaborative effort by several artists including Davide, who, nonetheless, was not mentioned in the contract. Evidently, the Innocenti altarpiece was considered a piece to be realized under the sole responsibility of Domenico. As this case shows, when a patron desired an individual work by Domenico, Davide acted as a workshop assistant. In other commissions, however, he assumed the role of a second author with differing degrees of contribution. This flexibility no doubt helped greatly as the workshop coped with various commissions and patrons, and contributed to the growing reputation of the workshop and Domenico as its master.
Takuma Ito is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Humanities at Keisen University, Tokyo, where he has been a faculty member since 2011. His research interests center on the Italian Renaissance, especially Tuscan and Florentine art of the fifteenth century. He received his M.A. from the University of Tokyo in 2003 and Ph.D. with honors in Art History from the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa in 2007. His dissertation, “La vetrata nella Toscana del Quattrocento,” published from the Olscki in 2011, explores the development of stained glass in fifteenth-century Tuscany and presents a new perspective of the theme with special attention to the characteristic aspects of Renaissance stained glass, such as the collaboration between the painters and the stained glass manufacturers. His academic publications also include contributions to the studies of various painters such as Giovanni di Francesco, Piero della Francesca and Domenico Ghirlandaio. He is currently engaged in an extensive study of Ghirlandaio and his workshop. His recent article on Ghirlandaio, published in the Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, discusses the reconstruction of the dismantled altarpiece by the artist for the Church of Santa Maria Novella, Florence, identifying several dispersed panels for the predella.