(b. 1449, Firenze, d. 1494, Firenze)
Portrait of the Donor Francesco Sassetti1483-85
Santa Trinita, Florence
"In two pictures on either side he painted Francesco Sassetti kneeling, and Madonna Nera, his wife and her children, the latter being in the scene above where the boy is raised to life, with some beautiful maidens of the same family" (Vasari).
At the sides of the altar Ghirlandaio painted full-length portraits of his patron Francesco Sassetti, and his wife Nera. Linking the frescoes and the central panel painting in this way Ghirlandaio creates what is almost a triptych.
Francesco Sassetti's dealings as a patron of the arts were not characterized by commercial acumen or sound business sense. It is almost as if he wanted to record his pointed rejection of the commercial mentality. As his reputation as a banker faded, people made fun of him by saying that he would rather study Cicero than his account books.
At the base is the painted inscription: A.D. MCCCCLXXX. XV decembris. This could be the initial date of the work whose conclusion is in the great altarpiece with the Nativity, dated 1485.