Ghirlandaio's Giovanna Tornabuoni

Ghirlandaio's Giovanna Tornabuoni
Ghirlandaio's Giovanna Tornabuoni

This is one of the great portraits made by the Italian painter Domenico Ghirlandaio. Specifically, it is a work done on panel with mixed media, which the artist made between 1488 and 1490, and which is currently exhibited within the set of works of the Renaissance that he treasures the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.

Giovanna Tornabouni de Ghirlandaio

Ghirlandaio's Giovanna Tornabouni

Ghirlandaio was a highly valued painter by the we althy classes of his time, whose characters he dedicated himself to portraying. Sometimes individually as we see here, but in many other works, he portrayed them and characterized them within broader religious scenes, since at that time it had become fashionable for the great characters of the time to want to participate in works of this type. style, thus remaining immortalized as privileged viewers of biblical episodes.

In fact, the protagonist of this painting, Giovanna Tornabouni, also appears in the frescoes that Ghirlandaio made for the church ofSanta Maria Novella of Florence. Specifically in the scene of the Visitation of the Tornabouni Chapel itself. However, in this Florentine temple he also painted other mural compositions with the life of the Virgin

Here we see the portrait of a young woman, however in the same year that this work began,1488, the protagonist died. It was about Giovanna degli Albizzi (1468 – 1488), who at the age of eighteen had married one of the we althy figures of Florentine society, Lorenzo Tornabuoni, but died two years later during childbirth.

Introduces the noblewoman, drawing inspiration from the iconography of classical art, especially the effigies that appear on ancient coins, a pose in which she also appears on the walls of the aforementioned church of Santa Maria Novella.

That is to say, a very typical composition of the portraits of the Quattrocento, where figures with highly idealized proportions are always created, and generally the faces with which they present us to the characters are usually quite expressionless, although at the same time the traits are very truthful.

The posture is very classic, in a strict profile and only portrayed from the bust, with the arms at rest and the hands together. Her figure occupies practically the entire table, but the background area serves to create a very simple architectural frame, which is the place where some objects related to the personality of the portrayed are represented.

It is known that the work finished once the woman died, since on the right you can see a small sign, where you can read part of a fragment of the Roman poet, of Hispanic origin, Marcial and there appears the date of the young woman's death.

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