Study Of Art – Filippino Lippi – 1457-1504

Filippino Lippi, son of Fra Filippo Lippi and Lucrezia Buti, was born in Prato. He must have learned much from his father, and as a boy of twelve was with him in Spoleto when he died in 1469. He then studied and worked under Botticelli, a relationship which profoundly influenced all his art. At the recommendation of Lorenzo de’ Medici he was asked to complete the work in the Brancacci Chapel begun by Masolino and Masaccio, one of the most important commissions that could have been offered him. The king of Hungary, Caraffa Cardinal of Naples, citizens of Prato, Lucca and Florence waited impatiently for his work. He was given three commissions left unfulfilled by Leonardo, the last the Deposition for the high altar of the Annunziata, completed by Perugino after Filippino’s death. In the artist circle of Florence he was a universal favorite. He was influenced by all the artistic currents of the time, but was not able to assimilate them to an artistic unity. He was married in 1497, and left three sons.

St. Bernard and the Cistercian Order. Storrs, St. Bernard.


No. 210. Vision of St. Bernard.

No. 211. Madonna and Angels: detail.

Badia, Florence.

Tempera. Altarpiece commissioned in 1480 (probably painted later) for the Pugliese Chapel at Campora, be-longing to the Abbey of Florence, now known as the Badia, to which the picture was removed in 1529.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux, 1096-1153, was one of the most influential ecclesiastics of his time, able to oppose and silence Abelard, and preacher of the second Crusade. His mystical writings undoubtedly gave rise to the legend of his Vision of the Virgin, who came to him as he wrote, giving him inspiration and strength, a favorite theme in Italian art.

The donor appears in the right hand corner. The picture has suffered from restoration, but the colors are in the main clear and transparent, blue and red predominating in the group of Madonna and angels. The white robes are those of the Cistercian order. The lovely angels are often repeated by Filippino.

Compare the landscape with that by Fra Lippo in the Adoration, 151, and consider the reason for so painting it; the propriety of introducing the donor in this way. Cf. Botticelli’s Adoration of the Magi, 175.

Study the sentiment of the picture. Compare the Madonna and angels with those by Botticelli.

No. 212. Madonna with Two Saints. National Gallery, London.

Tempera on wood, 6 3/4 by 6 feet. Painted for the Ruccelai Chapel of S. Pancrazio, Florence. Filippino’s most successful color piece, rich and harmonious; the mantle of the Madonna is blue, the dress crimson, ac-cording to tradition; the landscape is of especial beauty. St. Dominic with the lily kneels at the right; St. Jerome at the left, his traditional lion among the rocks above.

Study the development of Filippino’s technical skill; his type of Madonna; the character of the saints; the beauty of the landscape.

No. 213. St. Peter raising the King’s Son.

No. 214. Central Group : detail.

No. 215. St. Paul visiting St. Peter in Prison.

Brancacci Chapel, Carmine, Florence.

See notes on Masolino and Masaccio. Filippino’s frescos were executed about 1484, fifty-six years after Masaccio’s death. They occupy the lower tier of pictures. On the left, 213 was begun by Masaccio, but left unfinished. The kneeling youth (Francesco Granacci the painter, Vasari tells us) and the portraits of the central group are by Filippino.

Study 213 and 214 in connection with Masaccio’s work, 139-144, to form an independent judgment of the portions done by Masaccio and Filippino. Notice how admirably the later artist has adapted his work to that of the earlier generation. Study the head of St. Peter throughout the frescos.

Notice the interesting composition in 215; the characterization of the faces; the dignity of the drapery.

No. 218. Madonna with Four Saints.

Uffizi, Florence.

Figures life size. Painted in 1485 for the council room of the Palazzo Vecchio. The patron saints are John the Baptist and Victor at the left, Bernard and Zenobius, first bishop of the city, at the right.

Study the composition, its symmetry, its emphasis upon the architectural and monumental. Compare with 210, 212, in dignity, sentiment, and charm, considering the positions for which they were painted. Notice especially the angels above.

No. 219. Assumption of the Virgin.

S. Maria sopra Minerva, Rome.

In the right transept of the church, in the Caraffa Chapel, decorated by Filippino in 1488—1490 at the order of the Cardinal of Naples. The pictures on the side walls are in honor of St. Thomas Aquinas; on the altar wall are the Annunciation and the Assumption.

Study the spacing of the composition, its adaptation to the form of the lunette, the aerial quality. Compare the angels with 186, by Botticelli, noting the lack of restraint.

No. 216. St. John Evangelist raising Drusiana.

Chapel of Filippo Strozzi, S. Maria Novella, Florence.

This chapel, to the right of the choir, was decorated in 1502 with scenes from the life of St. John Evangelist on the left wall, and of St. Philip on the right.


Study the picture in all its details. Compare the architecture with classical buildings, with those being erected by Bramante. (See Series G.)

Notice the story represented, its natural and its dramatic quality, the attitudes and expressions of the different figures. Study the composition; the effect of the position of the architecture; the centering of interest; the effect of the fleeing figure at the left.

Compare with earlier work by Filippino. Consider the trend of his art.

No. 217. Portrait of Filippino Lippi.

Uffizi, Florence.

Unfinished sketch on tile. At one time considered a portrait of Masaccio.

Study the character suggested. Compare with Fra Lippo’s portrait in 149. Notice the slight treatment of the dress, centering attention on the face.

Lorenzo di Credi (Sciarpelloni). 1459-1537.

Lorenzo di Credi of the Barducci family was a favorite pupil of Verocchio, recommended by him to the Venetian authorities as best able to complete the Colleoni, and appointed his executor. A fellow pupil with Leonardo da Vinci, their early works have sometimes been confused. Lorenzo painted usually with oil, taking great care to keep his colors clear and pure, even using a different brush for each color. His finish is of miniature perfection. Under the influence of Savonarola he burned his studies of the nude and pagan subjects. A large panel of a nude Venus, evidently an early work, is now in the Uffizi, long hidden in the store rooms. A universal favorite, he was often called upon to appraise works of art and to settle artists’ disputes.


No. 207. Christ appearing to Mary.

Louvre, Paris.

1 foot 10 inches by 1 foot 4 inches. A replica is in the Uffizi. Study the design of the picture, the way in which it is held within its frame. Consider the problem of a successful composition containing only two figures. Notice the drapery. Study the thought and sentiment.

No.208. Annunciation.

Uffizi, Florence.

2 feet 9 inches by 2 feet 3 inches. The predella in grisaille represents the story of Adam and Eve. The work is marvellous in the perfection of its finish. The decorations of the Renaissance architecture are like goldsmith’s work. The light and color of the landscape behind the loggia are the especial charm of this little masterpiece by one of the lesser artists. The faces show the relationship with Verocchio and Leonardo. The sentiment and the method of painting are characteristic of Lorenzo himself.

No. 209. St. Mary of Egypt. Kaiser Friedrich Museum, Berlin.

Tempera. Formerly in the convent of S. Chiara, Florence. The legend of St. Mary of Egypt is confused with that of the Magdalen; both became anchorites, and were clothed in their luxuriant hair. The angel brings to her the sacrament, since the aged priest is unable to cross the stream.

Compare with the kneeling Magdalen in 207; the angel with that in 208.

Raffaelino del Garbo, 1466-1524, was a pupil of Filippino Lippi, assisting him in the Caraffa Chapel, and decorating independently the ceiling. Their works have often been confused.

No. 222. Madonna with Saints and Donors.

Uffizi, Florence.

This form of altarpiece is more frequently seen in North Italy. Compare 282, 284. St. Francis presents the donor. The bishop is probably St. Zenobius.

Study the contrast between portrait and ideal faces.