Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index

  • Title: Birth of St. John the Baptist
  • Creator: Ghirlandaio, Domenico, painter
  • Description: Two wet nurses take turns feeding the newborn John as Elizabeth rests. As a servant brings in water and a platter of fruit for Elizabeth, two midwives speak (the older one depicted as Lucrezia Tornabuoni de' Medici, the patron’s sister). The woman in the luxurious pink dress may be a portrait of another Tornabuoni relative. These two aristocratic women are marked by their similar dignified stance (hands folded before them) and somber expressions.
  • Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Rights: Public domain
  • Subject (See Also): Childbirth Domestic Space Donor Portraits Elizabeth (Biblical Figure) Infants John the Baptist, Saint Midwives Servants Tornabuoni de' Medici, Lucrezia, Poet and Wife of Piero di Cosimo de' Medici Wet Nurses
  • Geographic Area: Italy
  • Century: 15
  • Date: after 1425-1430
  • Related Work: Tornabuoni Chapel
  • Current Location: Florence, Santa Maria Novella, Tornabuoni Chapel
  • Original Location: Florence, Santa Maria Novella, Tornabuoni Chapel
  • Artistic Type (Category): Digital images; Paintings
  • Artistic Type (Material/Technique): Frescoes (paintings)
  • Donor: Layman; Giovanni Tornabuoni, Florentine merchant, ambassador to the papal court, director of the Medici bank
  • Height/Width/Length(cm): //
  • Inscription:
  • Related Resources: Cadogan, Jean. Domenico Ghirlandaio: Artist and artisan. Yale University Press, 2000;
    Opera per Santa Maria Novella. "The Tornabuoni Chapel (Maggiore Chapel)." http://www.chiesasantamarianovella.it/en/artworks/tornabuoni-chapel-maggiore-chapel;
    Simons, Patricia. "The Social and Religious Context of Iconographic Oddity: Breastfeeding in Ghirlandaio's Birth of the Baptist. Medieval and Renaissance Lactations: Images, Rhetorics, Practices. Edited by Juta Gisela Sperling. Ashgate, 2013.