|In the harrowing scene of the Slaughter of the Innocents in the background, Berenson recognized the hand of Bartolomeo di Giovanni, the author of the stories from the predella, whom he poetically called "Domenico's friend".
Ghirlandaio (second from the right) gazes out at us from this picture, more modestly than in his other self-portrait (like in the Tornabuoni Chapel or in the Sassetti Chapel). It is thought that the churchman dressed in black in front of him is the man who commissioned the panel painting, Francesco di Giovanni Tesori.
The town beyond this, in which we can see monuments such as the Colosseum, Trajan's Column, the Torre delle Milizie, and a pyramid, is meant to be reminiscent of Rome.
The theme of the "Massacre of the Innocents" has provided artists of many nationalities with opportunities to compose complicated depictions of massed bodies in violent action. It was an alternative to the Flight into Egypt in cycles of the Life of the Virgin. It decreased in popularity in Gothic art, but revived in the larger works of the Renaissance, when artists took inspiration for their "Massacres" from Roman reliefs of the battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs to the extent that they showed the figures heroically nude.
Art in Tuscany | The Massacre of the Innocents
Art in Tuscany | Domenico Ghirlandaio
Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists | Domenico Ghirlandaio, painter of Florence
 Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449 – January 11, 1494) | Drawing portraits of the people who passed by his father’s goldsmith shop is how Ghirlandaio got his start as a young artist. Born Garrison di Tommaso Curradi di Doffo Bigordi, he got his name Ghirlandaio, which means garland-maker, from his father, who made well known garland-like jewelry that women adorned on their necks.
Ghirlandaio had his first apprenticeship with the Florentine painter, Alesso Baldovinetti (1427 – 1499), and may have trained with Andrea del Verrocchio (1435 – 1488). While there is still some uncertainty about his young life, training and works, it is said that his first paintings were in Florence. These include Saint Jerome in His Study, a fresco done for the Chiesa di Ognissanti, or Church of Ognissanti, some of which he painted with his brothers, Benedetto and Davide, who worked in his studio.
Much of Ghirlandaio’s work in the Ognissanti is accompanied by other frescos his contemporary Sandro Botticelli (1444 – 1510) did. The most acclaimed fresco in the Ognissanti is Ghirlandaio’s The Last Supper, a work said to influence Leonardo da Vinci. There is also Ghirlandaio’s fresco in the Ognissanti’s Vespucci Chapel, Madonna dell Misericordia, which shows her embracing the Vespucci family protectively. The young boy depicted under the Madonna’s right arm is said to be the young explorer, Amerigo Vespucci (1454 – 1512).
Ghirlandaio’s painting style was bold and vivid, almost too much so for some critics of the time, as his colors seemed almost excessively bright. Though, his style was renowned for its decorative touch of grandeur and his natural sense of perspective and chiaroscuro (light and dark). This garnered his studio many commissions, including frescos in the Palazzo Vecchio (town hall of Florence) and The Sistine Chapel in Rome. In Tuscany he was commissioned for frescos in the Collegiata di San Gimignano and in Florence for the Sassetti Chapel of Santa Trinita, the Santa Maria Novella’s Ricci Family Chapel and for the Ospedale degli Innocenti.
He had several prominent patrons, who he painted a number of portraits of; including the Medici family and the Tornabuoni family. His piece, Adoration of the Magi, from 1487 of the Giovanni Tornabuoni collection, has been at the Uffizi Gallery since 1790. His Stories from the Lives of Saints and Man of Sorrows, an altarpiece painted for the Santa Maria a Monticello is also at the Uffizi.
This is only some of his documented work, and his frescos and altarpieces have and, in some cases, still do grace the walls of Italy’s churches. His most well known portrait piece is perhaps Old Man and his Grandson, which is now in the Louvre in Paris. His body of work had a lasting legacy in the Italian Renaissance, as well as being a teacher of Michelangelo (1475 – 1564), if only briefly. His son Ridolfo (1483 – 1561), also became a painter and was trained by Ghirlandaio’s brother Davide.
 Given his large-scale projects, Ghirlandaio could scarcely be expected to carry out such altar paintings in person. This was also realized by his donors, for some of them wrote into the contracts that the works they were paying for had to be painted by him in person. For example, on 28 October 1485, the Francesco di Giovanni Tesori, the prior of an orphanage ordered a panel painting of the Adoration of the Magi from Ghirlandaio.
The picture was intended for the main altar of the Spedale degli Innocenti, a foundling hospital. Fra Bernardo acted as the middleman and drew up a contract which made the following requirements: Ghirlandaio had to "colour the aforementioned panel himself, in the manner that can be seen on a paper drawing, with the figures and in the manner as depicted there, and in all details in accordance with what I, Fra Bernardo, consider to be best: he must not deviate from the manner and composition of the mentioned drawing." In addition, the artist had to colour the panel at his own expense and use good quality paints. Even the quality of the particularly expensive blue colour was precisely laid down in the contract: the artist had to use "ultramarine costing 4 florins per ounce". Ghirlandaio had to deliver the panel paintings after thirty months and would receive 115 large florins for it if the panel turned out to be worth the sum. The decision in that respect was in the hands of the contract's middleman, and as he assured himself in the text: "I can obtain an opinion as to its value or artistic merit from whomever I please, and if it does not appear to be worth the fixed price, he [Ghirlandaio] will receive as much less as I, Fra Bernardo, consider to be appropriate." Completed in 1488, the work, which delighted the middleman and client, is one of Ghirlandaio's finest panel paintings. The artist received the agreed fee, together with additional funds for a predella with stories of the Virgin. The scenes of the predella are the work of one of Ghirlandaio's pupils, Bartolommeo di Giovanni as confirmed by the records. The great cornice of the altarpiece had been executed by the carpenter Francesco Bartolo on designs by Giuliano da Sangallo.