Filippino Lippi (Florentine, c. 1457–1504) Madonna and Child (c. 1483–84) Tempera, oil, and gold on wood, 81.3 x 59.7 cm.

Filippino Lippi (Florentine, c. 1457–1504)
Madonna and Child (c. 1483–84)
Tempera, oil, and gold on wood, 81.3 x 59.7 cm.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Jules Bache Collection)

Filippino Lippi was so well renowned during his lifetime that shops in the center of Florence closed on the day of his burial. Many of his contemporaries were of the opinion that his paintings were sweeter —- più dolci —- than those of Botticelli, Filippino’s master.

He had begun his training with his father, Fra Filippo Lippi, a well-regarded painter who had previously instructed Botticelli. After his father’s death in 1469, Lippi’s guardian took him to study under Botticelli, from whom Lippi derived his depiction of twisted fingers and exaggerated joints and veins. By the time he was thirty, Lippi himself was considered a reputable artist and began working for the Medici family. Lippi is best known for his altarpieces, innovative scenes with dynamic figures whose subtly defined expressions and gestures provoke contemplation, but he was also a prolific draftsman who made many preparatory studies for both panel paintings and frescoes. According to one scholar, more drawings have been attributed to Lippi than to any other artist of the 1400s, apart from Leonardo da Vinci. He may have left more drawings because he conceived such complex arrangements, often integrating figures within illusionistic architectural devices.

This exquisite Madonna and Child was painted about 1483–84 for the wealthy Florentine banker Filippo Strozzi. Through an arcade decorated with his armorial emblems (three crescents) is a landscape that was probably intended to suggest the countryside around the Strozzi villa near Florence, where the picture probably hung in a private oratory. Like many wealthy men, Filippo Strozzi valued material display and insisted that his paintings employ the finest ultramarine blue —- as here.

(adapted from multiple sources)

More of Lippi’s work are included in the upcoming MWW Exhibit:
* From Giotto to Botticelli II: The 15th c. Italian Masters
For a few of his portraits, see the exhibit:
* Renaissance People I: A Portrait Gallery (1450-1525)

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