Filippo Lippi

Last updated

Filippo Lippi

Lippi z13.jpg
Self-portrait of Fra' Filippo Lippi
Filippo Lippi

Died8 October 1469(1469-10-08) (aged 62–63)
Nationality Italian
Other namesLippo Lippi
Known for Painting, Fresco
Notable work
Madonna and Child Enthroned , Annunciation
Movement Early Renaissance

Fra' Filippo Lippi O.Carm. (c.1406 – 8 October 1469), also known as Lippo Lippi, was an Italian painter of the Quattrocento (15th century) and a Carmelite Priest.



Lippi was born in Florence in 1406 to Tommaso, a butcher, and his wife. He was orphaned when he was two years old and sent to live with his aunt [1] Mona Lapaccia.[ citation needed ] Because she was too poor to rear him, she placed him in the neighboring Carmelite convent when he was eight years old. There, he started his education. In 1420 he was admitted to the community of Carmelite friars of the Priory of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Florence, taking religious vows in the Order the following year, at the age of sixteen. He was ordained as a priest in approximately 1425 and remained in residence of that priory until 1432. [1] Giorgio Vasari, the first art historian of the Renaissance, writes that Lippi was inspired to become a painter by watching Masaccio at work in the Carmine church. Lippi's early work, notably the Tarquinia Madonna (Galleria Nazionale, Rome) shows that influence from Masaccio. [2] In his Lives of the Artists , Vasari says about Lippi: "Instead of studying, he spent all his time scrawling pictures on his own books and those of others." [3] Due to Lippi's interest, the prior decided to give him the opportunity to learn painting.

Devotional image of the Madonna and Child before a golden curtain by the Workshop of Filippo Lippi. The Walters Art Museum. Workshop of Filippo Lippi - Madonna and Child - Walters 37429.jpg
Devotional image of the Madonna and Child before a golden curtain by the Workshop of Filippo Lippi. The Walters Art Museum.
Adoration in the Forest Fra Filippo Lippi - The Adoration in the Forest - Google Art Project.jpg
Adoration in the Forest
Madonna and Child (1440-1445), tempera on panel. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Madonna and Child (Filippo Lippi).jpg
Madonna and Child (1440–1445), tempera on panel. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

In 1432 Filippo Lippi quit the monastery, although he was not released from his vows. In a letter dated 1439 he describes himself as the poorest friar of Florence, charged with the maintenance of six marriageable nieces.

According to Vasari, Lippi then went on to visit Ancona and Naples, where he was captured by Barbary pirates and kept as a slave. His skill in portrait-sketching helped to eventually release him. [5] Louis Gillet, writing for the Catholic Encyclopedia, considers this account "assuredly nothing but a romance". [1]

With Lippi's return to Florence in 1432, his paintings had become popular, warranting the support of the Medici family, who commissioned The Annunciation and the Seven Saints. Cosimo de' Medici had to lock him up in order to compel him to work, and even then the painter escaped by a rope made of his sheets. His escapades threw him into financial difficulties from which he did not hesitate to extricate himself by forgery. [1] His life included many similar tales of lawsuits, complaints, broken promises, and scandal. [2]

In 1441 Lippi painted an altarpiece for the nuns of S. Ambrogio which is now a prominent attraction in the Academy of Florence, and was celebrated in Browning's well-known poem Fra Lippo Lippi . It represents the coronation of the Virgin among angels and saints, including many Bernardine monks. One of these, placed to the right, is a half-length figure originally thought to be a self-portrait of Lippo, pointed out by the inscription is perfecit opus upon an angel's scroll; it was later believed instead to be a portrait of the benefactor who commissioned the painting. [6]

In 1452 Lippi was appointed chaplain to the nuns at the Monastery of St. Mary Magdalene in Florence.

Portrait of a Man and Woman at a Casement (c. 1440). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. Lippo lippi woman.jpg
Portrait of a Man and Woman at a Casement (c. 1440). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

In June 1456 Fra Filippo is recorded as living in Prato (near Florence) to paint frescoes in the choir of the cathedral. In 1458, while engaged in this work, he set about painting a picture for the monastery chapel of S. Margherita in that city, where he met Lucrezia Buti, a beautiful novice of the Order and the daughter of a Florentine named Francesco Buti. Lippi asked that she might be permitted to sit for the figure of the Madonna (or perhaps S. Margherita). Lippi engaged in sexual relations with her, abducted her to his own house, and kept her there despite the nuns' efforts to reclaim her. [7] This relationship resulted in their son, Filippino Lippi, who became a famous painter following his father.

In 1457 he was appointed commendatory Rector (Rettore commendatario) of S. Quirico in Legania, from which institutions he occasionally made considerable profits. Despite these profits, Lippi struggled to escape poverty throughout his life.

The close of Lippi's life was spent at Spoleto, where he had been commissioned to paint scenes from the life of the Virgin for the apse of the cathedral. In the semidome of the apse is the Christ Crowning the Madonna, with angels, sibyls, and prophets. This series, which is not wholly equal to the one at Prato, was completed by one of his assistants, his fellow Carmelite, Fra Diamante, after Lippi's death. Lippi died in Spoleto, on or about 8 October 1469. The mode of his death is a matter of dispute. It has been said that the pope granted Lippi a dispensation for marrying Lucrezia, but before the permission arrived, Lippi had been poisoned by the indignant relatives of either Lucrezia herself or some lady who had replaced her in the inconstant painter's affections. [7]


The frescoes in the choir of the cathedral of Prato, which depict the stories of St. John the Baptist and St. Stephen on the two main facing walls, are considered Fra Filippo's most important and monumental works, particularly the figure of Salome dancing, which has clear affinities with later works by Sandro Botticelli, his pupil, and Filippino Lippi, his son, as well as the scene showing the ceremonial mourning over Stephen's corpse. This latter is believed to contain a portrait of the painter, but there are various opinions as to which is the exact figure. On the end wall of the choir are S. Giovanni Gualberto and S. Alberto, while the vault has monumental representations of the four evangelists. [7]

For Germiniano Inghirami of Prato he painted the Death of St. Bernard. His principal altarpiece in this city is a Nativity in the refectory of S. Domenico – the Infant on the ground adored by the Virgin and Joseph, between Saints George and Dominic, in a rocky landscape, with the shepherds playing and six angels in the sky. In the Uffizi is a fine Virgin, also called "Lippina", adoring the infant Christ, who is held by two angels; in the National Gallery, London, a Vision of St Bernard. The picture of the Virgin and Infant with an Angel, in this same gallery, also ascribed to Lippi, is disputable. [8]

Filippo Lippi died in 1469 while working on the frescoes of Scenes of the Life of the Virgin Mary, 1467–1469 in the apse of the Spoleto Cathedral. The Frescos show the Annunciation, the Funeral, the Adoration of the Child and the Coronation of the Virgin. [8] A group of bystanders depicted at the funeral includes a self-portrait of Lippi, together with his son Filippino and his helpers, Fra Diamante and Pier Matteo d'Amelia. Lippi was buried on the right side of the transept, with a monument commissioned by Lorenzo de' Medici. [3] Francesco di Pesello (called Pesellino) and Sandro Botticelli were among his most distinguished pupils.

Selected works

Related Research Articles

Filippino Lippi Italian painter (1457-1504)

Filippino Lippi was an Italian painter working in Florence, Italy during the later years of the Early Renaissance and first few years of the High Renaissance.

Andrea Mantegna Italian Renaissance painter (1431–1506)

Andrea Mantegna was an Italian painter, a student of Roman archeology, and son-in-law of Jacopo Bellini.

Domenico Veneziano Italian Renaissance painter

Domenico Veneziano was an Italian painter of the early Renaissance, active mostly in Perugia and Tuscany.

Luca Signorelli Italian Renaissance painter

Luca Signorelli was an Italian Renaissance painter who was noted in particular for his ability as a draftsman and his use of foreshortening. His massive frescoes of the Last Judgment (1499–1503) in Orvieto Cathedral are considered his masterpiece.

Masolino da Panicale

Masolino da Panicale was an Italian painter. His best known works are probably his collaborations with Masaccio: Madonna with Child and St. Anne (1424) and the frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel (1424–1428).

Pietro Perugino Italian Renaissance painter

Pietro Perugino, born Pietro Vannucci, was an Italian Renaissance painter of the Umbrian school, who developed some of the qualities that found classic expression in the High Renaissance. Raphael was his most famous pupil.

Benozzo Gozzoli Italian painter (c.1421-1497)

Benozzo Gozzoli was an Italian Renaissance painter from Florence. A pupil of Fra Angelico, Gozzoli is best known for a series of murals in the Magi Chapel of the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, depicting festive, vibrant processions with fine attention to detail and a pronounced International Gothic influence. The chapel's fresco cycle reveals a new Renaissance interest in nature with its realistic depiction of landscapes and vivid human portraits. Gozzoli is considered one of the most prolific fresco painters of his generation. While he was mainly active in Tuscany, he also worked in Umbria and Rome.

Fra Diamante

Fra Diamante was an Italian Renaissance painter.

Ridolfo Ghirlandaio

Ridolfo di Domenico Bigordi, better known as Ridolfo Ghirlandaio was an Italian Renaissance painter active mainly in Florence. He was the son of Domenico Ghirlandaio.

The decade of the 1460s in art involved some significant events.

The decade of the 1450s in art involved many significant events, especially in sculpture.

Jacopo da Sellaio

Jacopo del Sellaio (1441/2–1493), was an Italian painter of the early Renaissance, active in his native Florence. His real name was Jacopo di Arcangelo. He worked in an eclectic style based on those of Botticelli, Filippino Lippi, and Domenico Ghirlandaio. The nickname Sellaio derives from the profession of his father, a saddle maker.

<i>Madonna and Child</i> (Lippi) Painting by Filippo Lippi

Madonna with Child is a painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Filippo Lippi. The date in which it was executed is unknown, but most art historians agree that it was painted during the last part of Lippi's career, between 1450 and 1465. It is one of the few works by Lippi which was not executed with the help of his workshop and was an influential model for later depictions of the Madonna and Child, including those by Sandro Botticelli. The painting is housed in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy, and is therefore commonly called “The Uffizi Madonna” among art historians.

Palazzo Pretorio, Prato

The Palazzo Pretorio is a historical building in Prato, Tuscany, italy. It was the old city hall, standing in front of the current Palazzo Comunale. It now accommodates the Civic Museum of Prato, which was reopened on September 2013.

<i>Stories of St. Stephen and St. John the Baptist</i>

The Stories of St. Stephen and St. John the Baptist is a fresco cycle by the Italian Renaissance painter Filippo Lippi and his assistants, executed between 1452 and 1465. It is located in the Great Chapel of the Cathedral of Prato, Italy.

Lucrezia Buti was an Italian nun, and later the lover of the painter Fra Filippo Lippi. She is believed to be the model for several of Lippi's Madonnas.

<i>Scenes from the Life of the Virgin Mary</i>

Scenes from the Life of the Virgin Mary is a cycle of frescos by Filippo Lippi in Spoleto Cathedral.

<i>Bartolini Tondo</i> Painting by Filippo Lippi

The Bartolini Tondo is a tempera on panel painting by Filippo Lippi. 135 cm in diameter, it is also known as Madonna with the Child and Scenes from the Life of St Anne or Madonna and Child with the Birth of the Virgin and the Meeting between St Joachim and St Anne. It is now in the Galleria Palatina in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. The work is mentioned in the Palazzo Pitti inventories in 1761, which mention it as being stored or displayed in the "soffitte" or attics.

<i>St Anthony Abbot and Michael the Archangel</i>

St Anthony Abbot and Michael the Archangel are two tempera on panel works by Filippo Lippi, originally side-panels to a now lost central panel of the Madonna and Child. Produced between around 1445 and 1450, they are both now in the Cleveland Museum of Art, which also houses a later copy of the central panel by Lippi's workshop.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Gillet, Louis. "Filippo Lippi". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. Retrieved 4 April 2015
  2. 1 2 "Fra Filippo Lippi", The National Gallery, London
  3. 1 2 "Filippo Lippi", Virtual Uffizi Gallery
  4. "Madonna and Child". The Walters Art Museum.
  5. Greene, Robert (2000). The 48 Laws of Power . Penguin Books. pp.  187. ISBN   0-14-028019-7.
  6. Browning, Robert (2004). Robert Browning: Selected Poems. England: Penguin Books. p. 311. ISBN   978-0-140-43726-3.
  7. 1 2 3 "Biography". Archived from the original on 17 July 2019. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  8. 1 2 Rowlands, Eliot. "Lippi". Oxford Art Online. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  9. "Madonna and Child". The Walters Art Museum. Retrieved 26 September 2021.

Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Rossetti, William Michael (1911). "Lippi". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica . 16 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 741–742.

Further reading

Historical novels