Adoration of the Magi Ghirlandaio

Adoration of the Magi Ghirlandaio
Adoration of the Magi Ghirlandaio

The history of the Italian Renaissance is the history of a series of generations of artists who modified the artistic conception of the entire world; The so-called First Generation, which included artists such as Masaccio or Filipo Lippi, took the first steps towards a much more realistic and naturalistic painting than the Gothic aesthetic, and from then on Renaissance art evolved until it culminated in Mannerist aesthetics. The work we are analyzing here belongs to one of the painters of the Third Generation of Renaissance artists, Ghirlandaio.

Actually, his real name was Domenico Curradi or Domenico Bigordi although he is known by all as Ghirlandaio (1448 – 1494). He was one of the most famous artists in Italian society since his kind and brightly colored style was very popular in his time, so he worked for some of the most important clients of his time. The large amount of work he received made him have an important workshop in which various assistants helped him with the commissions, in fact, Michelangelo himself worked as an apprentice in Ghirlandaio's workshop.


The work we are analyzing here is a large painting that the artist made for the Hospital of the Innocents in Florence between 1485 and 1488; in reality and according to the documents found in this regard, the work must have formed part of the main altar of the church of Santa Maríaof the Innocents, annexed to the Hospital and whose predella was made by the painter Bartolomeo di Giovani. The documentation specifies how the work had to be done in thirty months and without the help of the workshop.

The theme chosen was The Adoration of the Magi, very common in Renaissance aesthetics; the artist poses a pyramidal composition whose apex places Mary with the Child and at the base two of the Magi, one kissing the Child's foot and the other holding his hand to his chest, while the third remains to the left of the composition central, dressed in yellow and red. In the composition appears Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist who present a wounded child, on the opposite side appears a small orphan in accordance with the work carried out by the Hospital of the Innocents in Florence. In the background appears a scene from the Massacre of the Innocents incorporating a new theme to the composition and that refers back to the work of the Hospital.

Among the set of characters that appear in the composition we also find representatives of the Silk Guild of Florence, which financed a large part of the Hospital's activities.

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