(b. 1449, Firenze, d. 1494, Firenze)
Calling of the Apostles (detail)1481
Cappella Sistina, Vatican
The group of characters on the right are all, or almost all, real portraits. Represented here are the most important components of the large Florentine colony in Rome - figures belonging to the most illustrious families of the city who had opened branches of their Florentine businesses in Rome, but above all the representatives of the Medici House banks of credit and commerce.
Giovanni Tornabuoni (whose sister was the wife of Piero de' Medici) figures prominently among the other characters portrayed. Head of the Medici Bank in Rome, he was so expert in financial and business affairs that he becvame the treasurer of Sixtus IV. Tornabuoni now is elderly, or so it wold appear from his austere countenance and the deep wrinkles that furrow his brow and temples. Lorenzo, still almost a boy, stands in front of his father, his sad face revealing a certain feminine softness.
Futher along the line, in profile, possibly another Tornabuoni is portrayed, the noble and cultivated Cecco. The character on the far right of the group is a member of the Vespucci family, Giovanni Antonio, whose sharp profile is illumined by a bright light that seems almost to lend him the suggestion of a smile. Another bare-headed gentleman, with white hair and a pensive expression is thought by some to be the Florentine Francesco Soderini.
Argyropulus is also among the Florentines, the old man with the resentful expression and rather weak face framed by a short white beard, and with his head covered by a strange, hard, almost prelatic hat. The Greek John Argyropulus, born in Constantinople but driven out by the Turks in 1453, had found refuge in Florence, in the cultivated circle of the Medici, whose guest he was for fifteen years. He had held the professorship of Greek at the university of Florence and Lorenzo il Magnifico had made him a citizen of Florence, which had become the city of his choice. When Argyropulus was called to Rome by Sixtus IV, he continued to regard himself as a Florentine and as such, with the others, Ghirlandaio portrayed him.