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Filippo Lippi

Fra' Filippo Lippi, O.Carm.
Selfportrait of Fra' Filippo Lippi
Born Filippo Lippi
ca. 1406
Florence, Republic of Florence
Died 8 October 1469 (aged 59–60)
Spoleto, Papal States
Nationality Italian
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 called Lippo Lippi, was an Italian painter of the Quattrocento (15th century).


  • Biography and works 1
  • Selected works 2
  • Notes 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
    • Historical novels 5.1
  • External links 6

Biography and works

Lippi was born in Vasari says: "Instead of studying, he spent all his time scrawling pictures on his own books and those of others."[3] 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.[4] The Walters Art Museum.
The Adoration in the Forest
Madonna and Child (1440–1445), tempera on panel. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Eventually Fra Filippo quit the monastery, but it appears 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. The altarpiece Lippi painted in 1441 for the nuns of S. Ambrogio 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 portrait of Lippo, pointed out by the inscription perfecit opus upon an angel's scroll. The price paid for this work was 1200 Florentine livre.

In 1452 he was appointed

Incoronazione della Vergine (1441–47).


  1. ^ a b c . Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. Retrieved 4 April 2015The Catholic EncyclopediaGillet, Louis. "Filippo Lippi".
  2. ^ a b "Fra Filippo Lippi", The National Gallery, London
  3. ^ a b "Filippo Lippi", Virtual Uffizi Gallery
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c "Fra Filippo Lippi Biography",


Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain

Further reading

  • Ruda, Jeffrey (1993). Fra Filippo Lippi: Life and Work. London: Phaidon Press. ISBN 0714838896.

Historical novels

  • Proud, Linda (2012). A Gift for the Magus. Godstow Press. ISBN 9781907651038. [A literary novel about Filippo Lippi and Cosimo de' Medici.]

External links

  • 75 works by Filippo Lippi
  • Paul George Konody, Filippo Lippi, London: T.C. & E.C. Jack; New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1911.
  • Italian Paintings: Florentine School, a collection catalog containing information about Lippi and his works (see pages: 92–94).

Selected works

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. 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.

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 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.

The close of Lippi's life was spent at Spoleto, where he had been commissioned to paint, for the apse of the cathedral, scenes from the life of the Virgin. 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. That Lippi died in Spoleto, on or about the 8th of October 1469, is a fact; 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.[6]

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.[6]

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, the beautiful daughter of a Florentine named Francesco Buti; she was either a novice of the Order or a young lady placed under the nuns' guardianship. Lippi asked that she might be permitted to sit for the figure of the Madonna (or perhaps S. Margherita). Under that pretext, Lippi engaged in sexual relations with her, abducted her to his own house, and kept her there despite the nuns' efforts to reclaim her.[6] The result was their son Filippino Lippi, who became a painter no less famous than his father. Such is Vasari's narrative, published less than a century after the alleged events.

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

Vasari relates Lippi's visits to Ancona and Naples, his capture by Barbary pirates and enslavement in Barbary, where his skill in portrait-sketching helped to release him.[5] Louis Gillet, writing for the Catholic Encyclopedia, considers this account "assuredly nothing but a romance".[1] From 1431 to 1437 his career is not accounted for.

[2] His life is a tale of lawsuits, complaints, broken promises and scandal.[1]

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