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Filippino Lippi

Jun - 25 - 2013
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Filippino Lippi

Self-portrait. Detail from The Dispute with Simon Magus (1471-1472)

Filippino Lippi (‘ little Filippo’) was born around 1457 in the Republic of  Florence(c. 1457 – April 1504).Filippino Lippi was among the most gifted and accomplished Florentine painters and draftsmen of the second half of the fifteenth century.

Born Filippo Lippi in Prato, Tuscany, the illegitimate son of the painter Fra Filippo Lippi and Lucrezia Buti, Filippino first trained under his father. They moved to Spoleto, where Filippino served as workshop adjuvant in the construction of the Cathedral there. When his father died in 1469, he completed the frescos with Storie della Vergine (Histories of the Virgin) in the cathedral. Filippino Lippi completed his apprenticeship in the workshop of Botticelli, who had been a pupil of Filippino’s father. In 1472, Botticelli also took him as his companion in the Compagnia di San Luca.

His first works greatly resemble those of Botticelli’s, but with less sensitivity and subtlety. His first major commission was the completion of Masaccio’s and Masolino’s fresco cycle in the Brancacci Chapel of Sta Maria del Carmine, which had either been left unfinished by Masaccio or had been partially destroyed. This task he carried out with such skill and tact that it is sometimes difficult to tell where his work begins and that of more than half a century earlier ends.

Filippino painted several other frescoes, the most important of which are cycles on the life of St Thomas Aquinas (1488-93) in the Carafa Chapel, Sta Maria sopra Minerva, Rome, and the lives of Sts Philip and John (1495-1502) in the Strozzi Chapel, Sta Maria Novella, Florence. In these he strove for picturesque, dramatic and even bizarre effects that reveal him as one of the most inventive of late Quattrocento painters. His years in Rome gave him the opportunity to study antique remains: ever afterwards he introduced bits and pieces of antiquity into all his pictures, whether suitable or not.

Mystic Wedding of St Catherine Virgin and Martyr

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

Filippino also painted many altarpieces, the most famous of which is the Vision of St Bernard (Badia, Florence, c. 1480), an exquisitely tender work, full of beautiful detail. There are many panels datable in the 1490s and the last years of his life, but like Botticelli, his style went out of date in his lifetime: it is sometimes called ‘Quattrocento Mannerism’.

Filippino’s fame spread throughout Italy and he painted major series of frescoes in Rome as well as Florence. He was also a renowned painter of altarpieces, receiving commissions from Milan, Bologna and Genoa.

Perhaps through the historical misfortune of being eclipsed by the next generation, in particular by Raphael and Michelangelo, Filippino’s contemporary success, greater than even that of his teacher Botticelli, is now forgotten. His sacra conversazione influenced High Renaissance artists and he can be seen as a link between the achievements of the 15th and 16th centuries.

Filippino died in April 1504 in Florence. His most notable follower was the painter Raffaellino del Garbo, whose drawings have occasionally been mistaken for those of his master.

Resources on the Web:

Filippino Lippi-Wikipedia
A brief biography of the artist
Biography and Works
Brief Biography
Very brief biography

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