Portrait of Girolamo Benivieni1510 - 1520
The sitter is almost certainly Girolamo Benivieni (1453–1542), a significant Florentine literary and political figure. Initially one of the intellectuals surrounding the cultured Lorenzo de' Medici, who effectively ruled Florence, he fell under the influence of the Dominican preacher and reformer Girolamo Savonarola, who persuaded the Florentines to form a populist republic. Benivieni denounced his own early love poetry and instead wrote songs to accompany the bonfires of frivolous and erotic objects organised by Savonarola’s youthful followers.
Ghirlandaio has made a detailed and sensitive study of the deep wrinkles and criss-cross lines of the old man’s face. The uninhabited, dream-like landscape evokes the realm of thought and poetry occupied by his mind. The pose and the hazy blue mountainous background suggest that Ghirlandaio had seen Leonardo’s Mona Lisa (Louvre, Paris). However, the crisp, carefully delineated face is more akin to the style of his father, Domenico Ghirlandaio, than to Leonardo’s subtle smoky rendition of Mona Lisa’s features.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
- 70.5 x 56.2 cm
- Oil on woos
- Courtesy of The National Gallery, London
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