Ghirlandaio was born to far more science and cunning in painting than was current in Benozzo’s early years, and all that industry, all that love of his occupation, all that talent even, can do for a man, they did for him; but unfortunately he had not a spark of genius. He appreciated Masaccio’s tactile values, Pollaiuolo’s movement, Verrocchio’s effects of light, and succeeded in so sugaring down what he adopted from these great masters that the superior philistine of Florence could say: “There now is a man who knows as much as any of the great men, but can give me something that I can really enjoy!” Bright colour, pretty faces, good likenesses, and the obvious everywhere—attractive and delightful, it must be granted, but, except in certain single figures, never significant. Let us glance a moment at his famous frescoes in Santa Maria Novella. To begin with, they are so undecorative that, in spite of the tone and surface imparted to them by four centuries, they still suggest so many tableaux vivants pushed into the wall side by side, and in tiers. Then the compositions are as overfilled as the sheets of an illustrated newspaper—witness the “Massacre of the Innocents,” a scene of such magnificent artistic possibilities. Finally, irrelevant episodes and irrelevant groups of portraits do what they can to distract our attention from all higher significance. Look at the “Birth of John”; Ginevra dei Benci stands there, in the very foreground, staring out at you as stiff as if she had a photographer’s iron behind her head. An even larger group of Florentine housewives in all their finery disfigures the “Birth of the Virgin,” which is further spoiled by a bas relief to show off the painter’s acquaintance with the antique, and by the figure of the serving maid who pours out water, with the rush of a whirlwind in her skirts—this to show off skill in the rendering of movement. Yet elsewhere, as in his “Epiphany” in the Uffizi, Ghirlandaio has undeniable charm, and occasionally in portraits his talent, here at its highest, rises above mediocrity, in one instance, the fresco of Sassetti in Santa Trinità, becoming almost genius.