Son of the much-celebrated Domenico Ghirlandaio, Ridolfo likely received his initial training under his father. Aged just eleven at the time of Domenico’s death in 1494, Ridolfo was too young to take on his father’s workshop but continued to work under the guidance of his uncle, Davide, who took over as head of the atelier. Such was Ridolfo’s skill, however, that from the turn of the 16th century, numerous works commissioned from Davide were instead entrusted to the younger artist for execution, such as the Saints Peter and Paul of 1503 in Palazzo Pitti, Florence and the Virgin of the Sacred Girdle of 1509 in Prato Cathedral.2
According to Giorgio Vasari, Ridolfo studied with Fra Bartolommeo and the influence of that artist is certainly apparent in the present painting, in the cool, dry landscape and slender, sparsely leafed trees. The host of angels, holding aloft a banderole and hovering in the upper section, is reminiscent of the slightly larger group included in Ridolfo’s Holy Family with Saints Francis and Jerome in the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg (fig. 1; inv. no. ET-89).
We are grateful to Andrea De Marchi for proposing the attribution and to David Franklin for endorsing it on the basis of photographs.
1. The Santa Barbara painting was later deaccessioned and sold London, Sotheby's, 9 December 1987, lot 121.
2. A. Muzzi, “Ghirlandaio Ridolfo,” in J. Turner (ed.), The Dictionary of Art, London and New York 1996, pp. 556-557.
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