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Filippino Lippi

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Filippino Lippi
Self-portrait – detail from the Brancacci Chapel fresco The Dispute with Simon Magus (1481–1482), Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence, Italy
Filippo Lippi

probably 1457
Died18 April 1504(1504-04-18) (aged 47)
Florence, Republic of Florence
EducationFilippo Lippi
Known forPainting, fresco
Notable workApparition of the Virgin to St. Bernard
Adoration of the Magi
MovementItalian Renaissance
Apparition of The Virgin to St. Bernard (1485–1487)
Allegory of Music (c. 1500), tempera on panel, 61 × 51 cm. Gemaldegalerie, Berlin, Germany

Filippino Lippi (probably 1457 – 18 April 1504) was an Italian Renaissance painter mostly working in Florence, Italy during the later years of the Early Renaissance and first few years of the High Renaissance. He also worked in Rome for a period from 1488, and later in the Milan area and Bologna.

He worked in oils, tempera and fresco, mostly painting religious subjects, with a few portraits and secular allegories or scenes from classical mythology.


Filippino Lippi was born, probably in 1457, at Prato, Tuscany,[1] the illegitimate son to Lucrezia Buti and the painter Fra Filippo Lippi; both had broken clerical vows, and though after Filippino's birth they received a papal dispensation to marry (arranged by Lorenzo di Medici), Vasari says that they never did. His sister Alessandra was born in 1465. Filippino first trained under his father in his workshop.

They moved to Spoleto, where Filippino served as workshop assistant during the construction of Spoleto Cathedral. When his father died in 1469, Filippino was aged twelve and among the assistants to his father who completed the frescoes with Storie della Vergine ("Life of the Virgin") in the cathedral.

He later completed his apprenticeship in the workshop of Botticelli, who also had been a pupil of Filippino's father. In the 1472 records of the Painters' guild it is noted that that Botticelli had only Filippino Lippi as an assistant, who was living in his master's house. The two artists often worked together on the same project. The shared works include the panels from a dismantled pair of cassoni, now divided among the Louvre, the National Gallery of Canada, the Musée Condé in Chantilly, and the Galleria Pallavicini in Rome.[2] Works by Botticelli and Filippino from these years include many paintings of the Madonna and Child which are often difficult to distinguish from one another.[3]

Mystic Wedding of St Catherine (1501) Basilica of San Domenico, Bologna, Italy

His early solo works greatly resemble those of Botticelli, but perhaps with less sensitivity and subtlety. The first ones (dating from 1475 onward) were attributed to an anonymous "Amico di Sandro" ("Friend of Botticelli"), a term introduced by Bernard Berenson in 1899, though by 30 years later his "lists" gave most of them to Lippi.[4] Eventually Lippi's style evolved becoming more personal and effective during the period 1480–1485. Works of this early period include: the Madonnas of Berlin, London, and Washington, D.C., the Journeys of Tobia of the Galleria Sabauda, Turin, the Madonna of the Sea of Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence, and the Histories of Ester.

Together with Perugino (another pupil of his father), Ghirlandaio, and Botticelli, Lippi worked on the decoration of Lorenzo de' Medici's villa at Spedaletto. On 31 December 1482, he was commissioned to decorate a wall of the Sala dell'Udienza of Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, a work never begun.

Soon after, probably in 1483–84, he was called to complete Masaccio's decoration of the Brancacci Chapel in the Santa Maria del Carmine di Firenze, that had been left unfinished when the artist died in 1428. There Filippino painted Stories of Saint Peter, in the following frescoes: Quarrel with Simon Magus in face of Nero, Resurrection of the Son of Teophilus, Saint Peter Jailed, Liberation, and Crucifixion of Saint Peter. His self-portrait at age twenty-five is at the right hand portion of the central panel, Disputation with Simon Magus and Crucifixion of St. Peter (see detail at info box).

Lippi's work on the Sala degli Otto di Pratica, in the Palazzo Vecchio, was completed on 20 February 1486.[5] It is now in the Uffizi Gallery. At about this time, Piero di Francesco del Pugliese asked him to paint the altarpiece with the Apparition of the Virgin to St. Bernard, which is now in the Badia Fiorentina, Florence. This is Lippi's most popular painting: a composition of unreal items, with its very particular elongated figures, backed by a phantasmagorical scenario of rocks and almost anthropomorphic trunks. The work is dated to 1485–1487.[5]

Later, he worked for Tanai de' Nerli in Florence's Santo Spirito church.

On 21 April 1487, Filippo Strozzi asked him to decorate the Strozzi family chapel in Santa Maria Novella with Stories of St. John Evangelist and St. Philip. He worked on this commission on and off over a long time. He only completed it in 1503, after Strozzi's death. The windows with musical themes, in the same chapel, also designed by Filippino, were completed between June and July 1503. These paintings have been considered as influenced by the political and religious crisis in Florence at the time: the theme of the fresco, the clash between Christianity and Paganism, was hotly debated during those years and in connection with Girolamo Savonarola.

Filippino depicted his characters in a landscape that recreated the ancient world in its finest details, showing the influence of the Grottesco style he had seen during his time in Rome. He created an "animated", mysterious, fantastic, but disquieting style, showing the unreality of nightmares. Thus, Filippino portrayed ruthless executioners with grim faces, who raged against the Saints. In the scene of St. Philip expelling a monster from the temple, the statue of the pagan deity is represented as a living figure challenging the Christian saint.

In 1488, Lippi went to Rome, where Lorenzo de' Medici had advised Cardinal Oliviero Carafa to entrust him with the decoration of the family chapel in Santa Maria sopra Minerva. The frescoes he produced there show a new inspiration, different from his earlier works, but confirm Lippi's continued research on the themes of the classical era. He completed the series by 1493.

Lippi's returned to Florence some time between 1491 and 1494. Works of this period include: Apparition of Christ to the Virgin (c. 1493, now in Munich), Adoration of the Magi (1496, for the church of San Donato in Scopeto, now in the Uffizi), Sacrifice of Laocoön (end of the century, for the villa of Lorenzo de' Medici at Poggio a Caiano), St. John Baptist and Maddalena (Valori Chapel in San Procolo, Florence, inspired by Luca Signorelli's works).

He also worked away from his home town, at the Certosa di Pavia, or Charterhouse, outside Pavia and in Prato, where, in 1503, he completed the Tabernacle of the Christmas Song, now in the City Museum. In 1501 Lippi painted the Mystic Wedding of St. Catherine for the Basilica of San Domenico in Bologna.

Lippi's final work was the Deposition for the Santissima Annunziata church in Florence, which he left unifinished when he died in 1504.

He died on 18 April 1504, at age forty-seven. Because of Lippi's fame and reputation, on the day of his burial all the workshops of the city closed in his honor.

Modern reception[edit]

The art critic Paul George Konody wrote of Lippi that "some of his qualities show him to be the most subtle psychologist of his time, the most modern in spirit of all the artists of the Renaissance".[6]

Major works[edit]

School works[edit]

Following works are permitted to be cited as Filippino's school works.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ RKD, Treccani
  2. ^ Nelson, Jonathan Katz (2009). ""Botticelli" or "Filippino"? How to Define Authorship in a Renaissance Workshop". Sandro Botticelli and Herbert Horne: New Research: 137–167.
  3. ^ Nelson, Jonathan Katz (2009). ""Botticelli" or "Filippino"? How to Define Authorship in a Renaissance Workshop". Sandro Botticelli and Herbert Horne: New Research: 137–167.
  4. ^ Davies, 287
  5. ^ a b Rowlands, Eliot W., and Marilyn Bradshaw. "Lippi family." Grove Art Online. 1 January 2003. Oxford University Press.
  6. ^ Jennie Irene Mix, "Great Pictures and Their Painters", The Pittsburgh Sunday Post (11 September 1910), p. 32.
  7. ^ Gábor Térey, The Burlington Magazine, page 183, L., 1927.
  8. ^ a b c G. Bernardini, Bollettino d'Arte del Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione (Ministry of Public Education (Italy)), year 1912, page 291.


  • Davies, Martin, The Earlier Italian Schools, National Gallery Catalogues, 1961, reprinted 1986, ISBN 0901791296
  • The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting, Volume 12, p. 371ff., Raimond van Marle, Hacker Art Books, New York 1970.

Further reading[edit]

Historical novels[edit]

  • Linda Proud, A Tabernacle for the Sun (Godstow Press, 2005), a literary novel set in Florence during the Pazzi Conspiracy, adheres closely to known facts. Filippino features as the closest friend of the narrator, Tommaso dei Maffei, here and in the following two novels of The Botticelli Trilogy.
  • Linda Proud, Pallas and the Centaur (Godstow Press, 2004), deals with the aftermath of the Pazzi Conspiracy and Lorenzo de' Medici's strained relations with his wife and with Poliziano.
  • Linda Proud, The Rebirth of Venus (Godstow Press, 2008), the final volume of The Botticelli Trilogy, covers the 1490s and the death of Lorenzo.
  • Linda Proud, A Gift for the Magus (Godstow Press, 2012), a novel about Fra Filippo Lippi and Cosimo de' Medici. Features Filippino's birth and childhood.

External links[edit]

Media related to Paintings by Filippino Lippi at Wikimedia Commons