Matching the Man of Sorrows

Over the Easter holiday weekend I came across this beautiful Man of Sorrows painting by Domenico Ghirlandaio, dated c.1490. It’s housed in the Philadelphia Museum of Art and forms part of a collection of artworks willed to the city in 1917 by the corporate lawyer and art collector John G. Johnson.

I wonder if the PMA realises what a unique treasure it has in its possession and on exhibit?

The painting is dated circa 1490. At one time it was considered to have been produced by the Netherlandish painter Hans Membling, and I’m not aware of who or when the work was attributed to Domenico Ghirlandaio,  but it is, in fact a self-portrait of the Florentine painter.

It must have been a late work by Ghirlandaio because he died from the plague at a relatively young age of 45 in January 1494. 

In the following year, 1495, Leonardo da Vinci began work on painting his famous mural of The Last Supper in the refectory attached to the monastery of Santa Marie Delle Grazia, in Milan.

Ghirlandaio’s self portrait was the inspiration and model for the central figure of Jesus in The Last Supper mural.

And I would go as far as to hypothesise that the face of Christ in the Salvatore Mundi painting, auctioned at Christie’s in 2017, is a composite of both Leonardo da Vinci and Domenico Ghirlandaio.

There are other features in Ghirlandaio’s painting that Leonardo referred to in The Last Supper. Both paintings also reference one of Leonardo’s earliest works, The Annunciation.

I shall expand on this in a future post.