GHIRLANDAJO, RIDOLFO (1483-1560), son of Domenico Ghirlandajo, Florentine painter, was born on the 14th of February 1483, and, being less than eleven years old when his father died, was brought up by his uncle David. To this second-rate artist he owed less in the way of professional training than to Granacci, Piero di Cosimo and perhaps Cosimo Rosselli. It has been said that Ridolfo studied also under Fra Bartolommeo, but this is not clearly ascertained. He was certainly one of the earliest students of the famous cartoons of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. His works between the dates 1504 and 1508 show a marked influence from Fra Bartolommeo and Raphael, with the latter of whom he was on terms of familiar friendship; hence he progressed in selection of form and in the modelling and relief of his figures. Raphael, on reaching Rome in 1508, wished Ridolfo to join him; but the Florentine painter was of a particularly home-keeping humour, and he neglected the opportunity. He soon rose to the head of the Florentine oil-painters of his time; and, like his father, accepted all sorts of commissions, of whatever kind. He was prominent in the execution of vast scenic canvases for various public occasions, such as the wedding of Giuliano de' Medici, and the entry of Leo X. into Florence in 1515. In his prime he was honest and conscientious as an artist; but from about 1527 he declined, having already accumulated a handsome property, more than sufficient for maintaining in affluence his large family of fifteen children, and his works became comparatively mannered and self-repeating. His sons traded in France and in Ferrara; he himself took a part in commercial affairs, and began paying some attention to mosaic work, but it seems that, after completing one mosaic, the "Annunciation" over the door of the Annunziata, patience failed him for continuing such minute labours. In his old age Ridolfo was greatly disabled by gout. He appears to have been of a kindly, easy-going character, much regarded by his friends and patrons.
The following are some of his leading works, the great majority of them being oil-pictures: -
"Christ and the Maries on the road to Calvary," now in the Palazzo Antinori, Florence, an early example, with figures of half life-size. An "Annunciation" in the Abbey of Montoliveto near Florence, Leonardesque in style. In 1504, the "Coronation of the Virgin," now in the Louvre. A "Nativity," very carefully executed, now in the Hermitage, St Petersburg, and ascribed in the catalogue to Granacci. A "Predella," in the oratory of the Bigallo, Florence, five panels, representing the Nativity and other subjects, charmingly finished. In 1514, on the ceiling of the chapel of St Bernard in the Palazzo Pubblico, Florence, a fresco of the "Trinity," with heads of the twelve apostles and other accessories, and the "Annunciation"; also the "Assumption of the Virgin, who bestows her girdle on St Thomas," in the choir loft of Prato cathedral. Towards the same date, a picture showing his highest skill, replete with expression, vigorous life, and firm accomplished pictorial method, now in the gallery of the Uffizi, "St Zenobius resuscitating a child"; also the translation of the remains of the same Saint. The "Virgin and various saints," at S. Pier Maggiore, Pistoja. In 1521, the "Pietà," at S. Agostino, Colle di Valdelsa, life-sized. Towards 1526, the "Assumption," now in the Berlin Museum, containing the painter's own portrait. An excellent portrait of "Cosimo de' Medici" (the Great) in youth. In 1543, a series of frescoes in the monastery of the Angeli. In the National Gallery, London, is "The Procession to Calvary." A great number of altar-pieces were executed by Ghirlandajo, with the assistance of his favourite pupil, currently named Michele di Ridolfo. Another of his pupils was Mariano da Pescia.
(W. M. R.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)