GHIRLANDAIO, Domenico
(b. 1449, Firenze, d. 1494, Firenze)

Confirmation of the Rule (detail)

1483-85
Fresco
Santa Trinità, Florence

The donor Francesco Sassetti is depicted in the foreground on the right as an equal and loyal partner to Lorenzo de' Medici, who stands next to him. On Francesco's left is his son Federigo, who like one of the Medici sons was destined to follow a career in the Church. The old man behind Lorenzo is Antonio Pucci, a powerful supporter of the Medici. Between 1480 and 1482, he carried out successful peace negotiations with the Pope. In 1483, his son Alessandro married Sibilla Sassetti, the daughter of Francesco.

The fact that this is one of the few authentic portraits of Lorenzo gives this fresco an inestimable value. Contemporary writers all agree in their descriptions of the grotesque shortcomings of Lorenzo's external appearance. He was said to have a flattened nose that hung down at the tip, a nose that was not even gifted with the sense of smell. Like his mother, Lucrezia Tornabuoni, he had an impaired sense of taste, and he always spoke in a hoarse tone o f voice. He had an unusually large mouth, sunken cheeks and a pale skin colour, all of which might have been repulsive, though it was probably countered by the superior charm of dignified humanity that Lorenzo is said to have exuded.