Filippino LippiFilippino Lippi (‘little Filippo’) was the son of Fra Filippo Lippi and the nun Lucrezia Buti. He was probably born around August 1457, when a letter to Giovanni de’ Medici refers to ‘an embarrassment’ of Fra Filippo. Brought up in Prato, he doubtless received some early training from his father. When Fra Filippo died in October 1469, Filippino was put under the guardianship of Fra Diamante, his father’s assistant. On 1 June 1472, he is listed in the Libro Rosso of the Compagnia di San Luca as ‘with Sandro Botticelli’. He seems to have stayed with Botticelli for some years. A few pictures (including an Adoration of the Magi in London and a Coronation of the Virgin in Washington) are sometimes regarded as works of collaboration between the master and his young assistant).
Filippino’s earliest documented commission, in 1478, was for an altarpiece (now lost) for a church in Pistoia. In December 1482, he was invited to replace Perugino in a team of illustrious painters (which included Ghirlandaio, Botticelli and Piero Pollaiuolo) engaged to decorate the Sala dei Gigli of the Palazzo Vecchio; but the project was subsequently scaled back and Filippino’s portion was never executed. His earliest surviving documented works are two panels (now at Pasadena) from an altarpiece commissioned in September 1482 for a church in Lucca and two tondi representing the Annunciation commissioned in February 1483 for the Palazzo Comunale at San Gimignano (where they are still preserved). Sometime in the early 1480s – there is disagreement about the exact date – he was chosen to complete the great cycle of frescoes by Masaccio and Masolino in the Carmine. In 1486, taking over an important state commission originally given to Leonardo, he completed a large altarpiece (now in the Uffizi) for the Sala degli Otto of the Palazzo Vecchio. In April 1487, the wealthy banker Filippo Strozzi engaged him to decorate his funerary chapel in Santa Maria Novella, but the work dragged on for many years and was eventually completed only in 1502.
In September 1488, at the wish of Lorenzo de’ Medici, Filippino took on the commission for painting the chapel of the Neapolitan Cardinal Oliviero Carafa in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva at Rome, where he probably spent most of the next two years. On his way to Rome, he visited his father’s burial-place at Spoleto, and erected a memorial to him in the Cathedral. Around 1490-91, Filippino worked with Perugino, Botticelli and Ghirlandaio on the decoration of Lorenzo’s villa at Spedaletto (destroyed by fire in the early nineteenth century). He contributed to the (inevitably ephemeral) festive decorations that greeted Charles VIII when the French King entered Florence in 1494, and in 1496 he completed an altarpiece of the Adoration of the Magi (now in the Uffizi) for the monks of San Donato (another commission originally given to Leonardo, who had left his picture unfinished when he left Florence for Milan). A Marriage of St Catherine, painted for San Domenico at Bologna and still in situ, is dated 1501. His last works include altarpieces completed in 1503 for the Commune of Prato (now in the Galleria Comunale there) and for a church in Genoa (now in the Palazzo Bianco). In 1503, he also took on a commission – yet another abandoned by Leonardo – to paint a huge double-sided high altarpiece for the Servite monks of Santissima Annunziata, but got only as far as starting the main front panel (a Deposition, finished by Perugino and now in the Accademia). He died in April 1504 of sprimanzia (angina) and was buried in San Michele Visdomini in Florence; Vasari says that the shops in the Via dei Servi closed as a mark of respect when the funeral procession passed by.
Filippino’s early works (all undocumented, undated and unsigned) are difficult to distinguish from Botticelli’s; many of them were once attributed to ‘Amico di Sandro’, a painter invented by Berenson to explain a body of pictures whose style seemed between the two artists. His mature works show some Flemish influence with their realism and bright colour. His late works, with their nervous line and agitated movement, anticipate Mannerism, and usually include references to antique remains he had seen in Rome. He was an exceptional and prolific draughtsman, and more drawings are attributed to him than to any other fifteenth-century Florentine painter apart from Leonardo. His only important assistant was Raffaellino del Garbo (?1466-c.1524), an eclectic painter who in his youth painted works ‘in the manner of Filippino to such a degree that few recognised them as anything but his’ (Vasari). Raffaellino has been credited with several pictures formerly given to Filippino.
Madonna and Child. Wood, 77 x 51.
The Madonna, of Botticellian facial type and elongated proportions, holds an open book, which is read by the Child standing on her knee. White dog roses (symbolising the Virgin's purity) and red carnations (symbolising the Incarnation and Passion of Christ) are scattered on the ledge behind and arranged in the stone vase. A riverscape with an elaborate Gothic tower is viewed through the window. Probably a fairly early work, dating from the 1480s. Acquired by King Frederick William III of Prussia in 1821 with the vast collection of some 3,000 art works amassed by the English merchant Edward Solly during the Napoleonic Wars.
Allegory of Music. Wood, 61 x 51.
The beautiful female, draperies billowing and myrtle in her hair, is usually identified as Erato, muse of dance and love poetry. She holds a golden ribbon, which two playful putti appear to be winding round the neck of an angry white swan. On a shelf of rock on the left, there is a fantastic lyre made from a stag’s head and a bone plectrum to play it; Pan-pipes and a shawm are a little lower down. The stream, with cygnets, in the foreground and the sea in the background may represent sources of inspiration. On one interpretation, Erato symbolises marital harmony, which restricts the freedom of love, represented by the swan. A late work (about 1500). Acquired in Florence in 1883 from the painter Sigmund Landsinger.
Head of a Man. Fresco, 49 x 34.
This is said to be a fragment of one of the frescoes that were destroyed in the fire of 1771 at Santa Maria del Carmine. It was bought in Florence by William Young Ottley in the early 1800s, and given to the Berlin Museum by Wilhelm Bode in 1904.
Besançon. Musée des Beaux-Arts.
Head of Christ. Canvas, 22 x 17.
This small devotional painting, perhaps dating from around 1500, is rather little known. It is somewhat damaged and retouched, and may have been transferred from panel to canvas. The halo is not original. Bequeathed to the museum in 1894 with the collection of the painter Jean Gigoux (now best known for his affair with Balzac's wife, Ewelina Hanska).
Bologna. San Domenico. Isolani Chapel (right of choir).
Marriage of Saint Catherine. Wood, 202 x 172.
The kneeling St Catherine (with the wheel) receives the ring from the Child; St Paul (with the sword) and St Sebastian (bound and pierced with arrows) stand on the right, St Peter (with huge keys) and John the Baptist on the left; Joseph is in the left background; and tiny torch-bearing angels look down from the architrave of the ruined temple. A late work, painted for the altar of the Casali family chapel and signed and dated 1501 on the pavement in the foreground. It is still in that chapel, which was inherited by the Isolani family from Marchese Gregorio Casali in 1802. It probably lost its original frame in 1727-33, when the church was restored. A small Pietà now in Washington allegedly has a Bolognese provenance and may have belonged to the predella (if the altarpiece originally had one).
Budapest. Museum of Fine Arts.
Virgin and Child with St Anthony of Padua and a Donor. Wood, 57 x 42.
The Virgin and Child may be appearing to the donor (a Franciscan friar) in a vision. The convention of representing the donor smaller than the Madonna was old-fashioned by the time the picture was painted, and may have been stipulated by a conservative patron. An early work, probably dating from the late 1470s or early 1480s. Purchased from a Venetian art dealer in 1894. Nothing is known of its previous history. The blues of the sky and the Virgin’s robe are abraded, while the green of the flowery meadow has darkened.
St Jerome in Penitence. Wood, 47 x 34.
The saint kneels before a crucifix fixed to a tree, leaning forward with a crutch under his arm and a stone held to his breast. His cave is in the rocky hillside behind; his cardinal's hat hangs from a fork in the tree; and his lion is just visible against the dark wood at the right edge. Small devotional panels of St Jerome were very popular in Renaissance Italy and may often have been hung in bedchambers. Probably an early work of Filippino (late 1470s or early 1480s).
Chantilly. Musée Condé.
Story of Esther. Wood, 47 x 138.
Esther and the other virgins are presented to King Ahasuerus, who selects Esther as his bride. One of a series of six panels, from two cassoni, representing episodes from the story of Esther. Others are in the Louvre, Ottawa, Florence (Horne Museum) and Rome (Galleria Pallavicini-Rospigliosi). The beautiful and mysterious little picture of La Derelicta in the Galleria Pallavicini-Rospigliosi (identified by Wind (1940) as representing Mordecai weeping) is sometimes ascribed to Botticelli. It is possible that Botticelli received the commission for the two cassoni and made preparatory drawings for the whole series of panels. The Chantilly, Louvre, Ottawa and Horne panels all came from the Palazzo Torrigiani in the Via de’ Bardi in Florence. Once attributed to Berenson’s ‘Amico di Sandro’, the panels – a rich golden brown in tone and delicate and sketchy in execution – have sometimes been dated as early as the mid-1470s.
Cherbourg. Musée Henry Thomas.
Dead Christ with Virgin, Magdalen and Joseph of Arimathea. Wood, 96 x 65.
The picture recalls Filippo Lippi’s Pietà in the Poldi Pezzoli Museum, Milan, and had formerly been ascribed either to Filippo or the young Botticelli. The attribution to Filippino Lippi, as a very early work (mid-1470s), was made by Patrizia Zambrano in the May 1996 Burlington Magazine. The faces and draperies are much abraded.
Cleveland (Ohio). Museum of Art.
Holy Family. Wood, 155 in dia.
The Child embraces the little St John, who is held by St Margaret. To the left, Joseph leans on his staff. This splendid large tondo was possibly painted in Rome for Cardinal Oliviero Carafa, who commissioned Filippino Lippi's famous frescoes in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. It was first noticed by Crowe and Cavalcaselle (1864) in the Palazzo Carafa (or Santangelo) in Naples, where it was ascribed to Ghirlandaio. It later belonged to Mrs S. D. Warren (who lived in Lewes, Sussex, and Boston, USA) and L. E. Holden of Cleveland, who gave his collection to the museum in 1929. Another, much smaller version in the Strossmayer Gallery at Zagreb is usually ascribed to Filippino's workshop.
Copenhagen. Staatens Museum.
Meeting of Joachim and Anne. Wood, 111 x 122.
According to apocryphal writings (eg. the Protevangelium of James), St Anne was promised a child in answer to her prayers. Her elderly husband Joachim returned from guarding his flocks to meet her outside the Golden Gate of Jerusalem, and the picture illustrates the Virgin Mary's miraculous conception at the moment of her parents' embrace. St Anne is accompanied by two females and Joachim by a young shepherd. A characteristic late work; signed and dated 1497 on the base of the column on the left. First mentioned in the collection of Cardinal Valenti at Rome, and later in the Amsterdam collection of Isaak Hoogenbergh; purchased for King Frederick V of Denmark for 80 rigsdaler in 1763. Restored in 1997.
Denver. Art Museum.
Double Portrait of Piero del Pugliese and Filippino Lippi. Wood, 38 x 87.
In this highly unusual and intimate double portrait, Piero del Pugliese glances sideways at Filippino, who faces him in profile. Filippino’s patron Piero di Francesco del Pugliese (1430-98) was a member of one of Florence’s most prominent merchant families. His family palazzo still stands (as the Palazzo Ferroni) on the present-day Via dei Serragli. His portrait has been identified in three other works by Filippino: the Vision of St Bernard of about 1486 in the Badia (the kneeling donor in the bottom right corner); the roughly contemporary Carmine fresco of the Raising of the Son of Theophilus (third figure on the left); and the Adoration of the Magi of 1496 in the Uffizi (the white-haired spectator in the right foreground). The little-known double portrait at Denver was possibly intended as a present from the painter to his patron. It probably dates from the mid-1480s, when Piero was aged about fifty-five. Once in the collection of Emil Weinberger of Vienna, the picture was bought by Simon Guggenheim in 1933 from the Italian dealer Alessandro Contini Bonacossi. Donated to the Denver museum by Guggenheim's widow, Olga Hirsch, in 1955.
Dublin. National Gallery of Ireland.
Portrait of a Musician. Wood, 51 x 37.
The young man tunes a five-stringed lira da braccio (a popular form of fiddle). Across the back of the instrument is a line from one of Petrarch's canzione ('and beginning now is not too soon'). On the shelves behind are books, a lute, a second lira and two wind instruments. Probably the earliest known portrait of a sitter with a musical instrument. Purchased from a private collection in Rome in 1897, and catalogued first as a work of Raffaellino del Garbo. The attribution to Filippino was published in 1949 by Ragghianti. The portrait is alternatively ascribed to the ‘Master of the Immaculate Conception’, a Lucchese follower of Filippino now identified as Vincenzo d’Antonio Frediani.
Edinburgh. National Gallery of Scotland.
Nativity. Wood, 25 x 37.
Two angels hold up the Virgin’s mantle; the elderly Joseph is seated on the left. This delicately and somewhat sketchily executed little panel is probably from a predella, but no companion panels are known. It may date from early 1490s. Said to have been in the collection of Marie and Christine Sergievna Barishnikov in Hungary. Bought from Knoedler’s in London in 1931.
El Paso (Texas). Museum of Art.
Saint Jerome in his Study. Wood, 49 x 36.
The saint, more often shown as a penitent hermit in the wilderness, is portrayed here as a scholar, wearing red cardinal's robes and with a red broad-brimmed cardinal's hat hanging by the window on the left. Very little is known of the history of this panel, which was possibly painted for the study of some Florentine scholar. It was sold by the Marchese Bernardo Patrizi at Rome in 1949-50. Briefly with the dealer Contini Bonacosssi, it was acquired by Samuel H. Kress in 1950 and given to the El Paso Museum in 1961. It has also been attributed to Raffaellino del Garbo. It may date from the early 1490s.
Madonna adoring the Child. Wood, 96 x 71.
Probably painted about 1480. Like many of Filippino’s early paintings, it was once attributed to Berenson’s ‘Amico di Sandro’. The composition is particularly closely related to that of an Adoration by Botticelli (and his workshop) at Piacenza. Purchased by the Uffizi in 1902 for 37,000 lire from Giuseppe Manni.
Adoration of the Child with the Little St John. Wood, 100 x 58.
Also early. The Virgin’s pose is similar to that in another early Adoration by Filippino in Washington, in which an angel replaces the infant St John on the left of the picture. Acquired as an unattributed picture from the Galleria Ferroni, and deposited in 1894 at the Cenacola di Foligno in Via Faenza as a work of the fifteenth-century Florentine School. Berenson ascribed it in 1899 to his ‘Amico di Sandro’, reattributing it to Filippino Lippi in 1936. It has been exhibited at the Uffizi only since its restoration in 2004.
‘Madonna of the Eight’. Wood, 355 x 255.
The enthroned Madonna, crowned by two angels, is attended by the patron saints of Florence: Zenobius, John the Baptist, Bernard and Victor. Above are the arms of the city. Painted for a new altar in the room in the Palazzo Vecchio in which the Otto di Patrica (Government of Eight) held their meetings. Earlier given to Piero Pollaiuolo and then to Leonardo, who made the cartoon for thirty-five florins, the commission was taken over by Filippino when Leonardo left Florence for Milan. According to the Anonimo Gaddiano, Filippino made use of Leonardo’s cartoon. The step is inscribed with the date 20 February 1485 (1486 new style). Filippino was paid 1200 lire on 7 June 1486. The original frame was carved by Chimenti di Domenico del Tasso, who received 500 lire. According to Vasari, the altarpiece was protected by a blue hanging, which, when open, was held back by white and red silk bows. Transferred to the Uffizi in 1782.
Adoration of the Magi. Wood, 258 x 243.
In the background, scenes of the journey of the Magi. Painted for the high altar of the Augustinian church of San Donato a Scopeto after Leonardo, who had been given the commission first in 1481, had left his picture (also now in the Uffizi) unfinished. Filippino's fee was 300 fiorini sugelli (about 225 florins). Vasari says that the picture contains portraits of the younger branch of the Medici. The old astronomer, kneeling on the extreme left with an astrolabe under his arm, is allegedly Pier Francesco (though he would have been dead twenty years when the picture was painted) and the young king standing behind him, having the crown lifted from his head by his page, is allegedly his son Giovanni (husband of Caterina Sforza and father of the condottiere Giovanni delle Bande Nere). The white-haired onlooker gesturing towards the holy family in the right foreground is often identified as the wealthy merchant Piero del Pugliese, an important patron of Filippino. (There is a superb metalpoint study for the elderly man's head at Leipzig.) The back of the panel is inscribed with the artist’s name and the date, 29 March 1496. Filippino was paid three hundred florins for the picture. It was moved to the church of San Jacopo when San Donato was destroyed during the siege of 1529-30. By 1666, it was in the collection of Cardinal Carlo de’ Medici. The altarpiece had a predella. Two of the five panels from this, representing half-length figures of St Donatus and St Augustine, are now in the North Carolina Museum of Art at Raleigh. The other three predella panels are still in private hands. (The centre panel, representing Christ as a Man of Sorrows, was sold at Christie's, New York, in January 2010.)
Saint Jerome in Penitence. Wood, 136 x 71.
From the Badia at Florence, where it was described by Vasari as ‘most beautiful’. The patron is unknown, though one of the coats-of-arms on the picture is of the Ferranti family. According to Puccinelli’s Cronica della Badia Fiorentina the picture was painted in 1480, but this seems implausibly early. It was later moved to two other churches (Santa Maria della Campora and San Procolo), and transferred to the Uffizi in about 1810.
Allegory. Wood, 30 x 23.
Two almost identical young men are shown, one writhing on the ground in the coils of a snake and the other standing behind with a snake coiled round his leg. Between them is written the Latin inscription: ‘There is no plague like family enmity’. An elderly bearded man in a red robe is seated beneath a laurel tree on the right, and in the background is a view of Florence (with the Palazzo Vecchio, Cathedral and campanile) under dark clouds. The subject is obscure. It was at one time called Laocoön – the Trojan priest whose two sons were crushed by sea serpents. The inscription suggests that it refers in some way to family quarrels, and it has been suggested that it could be an allegory of the civil strife in Florence following the expulsion of the Medici in 1494. (According to an interpretation published by Jonathan Nelson in 1996 in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts, the two youths symbolise the feuding Medici cousins Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco and Piero di Lorenzo and the bearded man represents the invading French King Charles VIII as Jupiter.) The picture seems too small to have been a cassone or spalliera panel, and it might have formed the cover of a portrait or book. It is first recorded in the early nineteenth century in the Guardaroba (depository) of the Pitti Palace, and was transferred to the Uffizi in 1919. It was attributed to Filippino by Giovanni Morelli, having at one time been given to Leonardo da Vinci (whose name is inscribed on the back of the panel). It has also, recently, been ascribed to Filippino’s pupil Raffaellino del Garbo. Restored in 1995 and exceptionally well preserved.
Self-Portrait. Fresco on tile, 50 x 31.
This portrait is like the supposed self-portrait by Filippino in the Carmine, and was acquired by the Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1771 as a self-portrait by Masaccio. The seller was Ignazio Hugford, a dealer, painter and forger. The picture has been much reproduced, and was used for a commemorative postage stamp in 1957 marking the five hundredth anniversary of Filippino’s birth. But its authorship and age have been questioned since the 1920s. Cole and Middeldorf (1971) thought that it might have been faked by Hugford. It was recently officially re-ascribed to ‘a seventeenth-century Tuscan artist’ and banished to the reserve collection.
Deposition from the Cross. Wood, 334 x 225.
The main panel from the front of the large double-sided high altarpiece of the church of SS. Annunziata in Florence. The commission had been given originally to Leonardo, who abandoned the project when he entered the service of Cesare Borgia as a military engineer in the summer of 1502. On 15 September 1503, Fra Zaccheria di Lorenzo da Firenze, friar of the Annunziata, ordered the paintings for the altarpiece from Filippino Lippi for 200 florins. The Deposition was left unfinished at Filippino’s death in April 1504. He had completed only the figures in the upper half according to Vasari. The figure of Christ and all the figures on the ground were painted by Perugino, who took over the commission on 5 August 1505. However, in most cases Perugino may have followed Filippino’s designs blocked out in underpaint. X-rays reveal that in Filippino’s original conception the Magdalen embraced the cross. The altarpiece was completed by Perugino by November 1507. The Assumption from the back is still in SS. Annunziata, while the other panels are dispersed among museums in Altenberg, New York and Rome and a private collection. The altarpiece, the largest known in Renaissance Florence, was probably unveiled only for mass, since it had two painted curtains (attributed by Vasari to the young Andrea del Sarto).
The Baptist; the Magdalen. Two panels, 135 x 56.
These two austere figures were once ascribed to Castagno. They are late works, close in style to the frescoes in Santa Maria Novella. They formed the wings of an altarpiece painted around 1498-1500 for the Valori Chapel in the little Florentine church of San Procolo. The central panel was a Crucifixion with the Virgin and St Francis. Above the altarpiece was a fresco of St Francis receiving the Stigmata. (The chapel’s founder, Francesco Valori, was Gonfaloniere in 1497; a follower of Savonarola, he was killed by the mob that stormed San Marco in April 1498.) The panels of the altarpiece were moved to the Badia in the eighteenth century and then, after the Benedictine convent there was closed in 1808, they were brought to the Accademia. The Crucifixion was purchased in 1818 (through the art dealer Felice Cartoni) by the English merchant Edward Solly, whose huge collection was sold en bloc to the King of Prussia in 1821. It was destroyed at Berlin in 1945.
‘Madonna del Mare’. Wood, 40 x 28.
This charming (though damaged and restored) little painting has been ascribed to Botticelli, to his circle and to the young Filippino Lippi. The misty seascape with distant pale-blue mountains recalls Leonardo’s atmospheric landscapes. From the Convento di Santa Felicita.
Death of Lucrezia. Wood, 42 x 126.
The small, brightly coloured figures stand out against a golden cream background of architectural perspective. On the left, Lucrezia falls dying into the arms of her husband Collatinus, having stabbed herself out of shame after being raped by Sextus. In the centre, Brutus, brandishing the dagger over her dead body, swears revenge. On the right, two young men, one on horseback and the other on foot, prepare to revolt against the Tarquins. This long, narrow panel is often assumed to have been a cassone front, but may rather have been designed to have been seen, at eye level, on a wall. In general composition, though not points of detail, it resembles a larger panel of the same subject by Botticelli (and workshop) at Boston. An early work (late1470s?), once attributed to ‘Amico di Sandro’. Bequeathed to the Florentine Galleries (as a work of Bacchiacca) by Cav. Carnani in 1827. Restored in 1989. A companion panel, representing the Story of Virginia, is in the Louvre.
Florence. Horne Museum.
Story of Esther. Wood, 46 x 40.
Vashti, the disgraced Queen of Susa, leaves King Ahasuerus’s palace. An end panel from a cassone. Other panels from the same series, all illustrating episodes from the story of Esther, are in Chantilly, Paris, Ottawa, and Rome (Galleria Pallavicini-Rospigliosi). Herbert Horne acquired the Vashti in 1908 from Marchese Carlo Torrigiani.
Crucifixion with the Virgin and St John. Canvas, 69 x 93.
Two angels collect in chalices the blood from Christ’s wounds. Sketchy in execution and rather faded. The attribution to Filippino, as a late work, was made by Herbert Horne himself.
Florence. Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze.
Madonna and Angels. Tondo: 173 in dia.
The two angels on the left present the Child with bowls of flowers; three more angels on the right sing from a musical scroll. (The notation on the scroll is legible as a real composition for three voices.) In the distance on the right is a tiny figure of the youthful John the Baptist. The mysterious landscape background – a seaport surrounded by jagged mountains – shows the influence of Leonardo. This is perhaps the largest painted tondo of the Quattroceno. It is a comparatively early work, probably dating from about 1485. It is first recorded in an eighteenth-century inventory of the pictures at the Medici villa at Careggi. The villa was later acquired by Marchese Pietro di Neri Corsini, and the picture remained in the Corsini collection until 1982, when it was bought by the Ente Cassa di Firenze. (It usually hangs in the bank's boardroom and is rarely accessible to the public. It was shown at the Uffizi in June-September 2015 as part of the Piero di Cosimo exhibtion.)
Vision of Saint Bernard. Wood, 208 x 196.
This lyrical picture – probably the most popular of all Filippino’s panel paintings – was commissioned by Piero di Francesco del Pugliese, the wealthy wool merchant, for the altar of his chapel in the small Benedictine priory church of Le Campora at Marignolle, just outside the Porta Romana, the southernmost gate of Florence. It was commissioned by 1486 for one hundred and fifty florins (including the cost of the gold and a curtain). The subject of the Virgin appearing to St Bernard was quite popular in Florence and also occurs in celebrated pictures by Perugino (Munich) and Fra Bartolommeo (Uffizi). The saint is shown young and beardless, wearing the white habit of the Cistercian Order. The patron, in fur-trimmed robes and red cappuccio, is shown half-length – cut off by the bottom edge of the panel as though he is praying in front of the altarpiece. The open book, propped up on the rocks behind the saint’s outdoor writing desk, gives (in perfectly legible Gothic minuscules) the account of the Annunciation in St Luke’s Gospel. In the cave behind the saint, there is a chained devil and an owl. On the hill above, Cistercian monks in front of their monastery look in wonder at the heavens and discuss the miracle. During the siege of 1529, the Benedictines took the picture to their church of the Badia, and it was later set up in a side chapel. It now hangs to the left of the entrance.
The church is now used by a group called the Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem, and is closed except for a few hours on Monday afternoons.
Tabernacle of Saint Sebastian.
This small, elegant tabernacle is situated between the second and third altars on the left side of the nave. It marked the tomb of the sculptor Leonardo del Tasso, who himself carved the polychrome wooden statue of St Sebastian. The painting above (79 x 117) depicts two monochrome angels holding a martyr's crown. The small tondo (16 in dia.) in the predella represents the Annunciation. These painted elements are usually accepted as minor late works of Filippino Lippi, though attributions have sometimes been made to his school or to Raffaellino del Garbo. An inscription is said to have given the date 1500 (Tasso was buried on 18 January 1501). The tabernacle was restored after damage in the 1966 flood.
Florence. Santa Maria del Carmine.
Frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel.
The exact date is unknown; but it was probably in the early 1480s that Filippino was chosen by the Carmelite friars to complete the frescoes that Masaccio and Masolino had left unfinished. It was his first major commission in Florence. He may have been chosen because his father had been a monk at the monastery and a pupil of Masaccio. Filippino completed (or repaired) Masaccio’s fresco of the Raising of the Son of Theophilus in the lower register of the left wall (apparently executing the kneeling naked figure of Theophilus’s son, the four men standing on the extreme left and the group of eight men standing in the centre). On the left entrance pier, he painted the small vertical scene (232 x 89) of St Paul visiting St Peter in Prison. On the lower register of the right wall, he painted the double scene (232 x 558) of the Crucifixion of St Peter and SS. Peter and Paul disputing with Simon Magus before Nero and the small scene on the pier (232 x 89) of the Release of St Peter. Filippino carefully integrated his style with Masaccio’s. He may broadly have followed Masaccio’s original compositions and, where they existed, his sinopia underdrawings. Many of the heads are portraits according to Vasari. The naked son of Theophilus is said to be a portrait of the painter Francesco Granacci when an adolescent; while the three figures standing on the extreme left of the same scene are said to represent the Gonfaloniere Tommaso Soderini, the poet Luigi Pulci and Filippino’s patron Piero del Pugliese. The elderly Antonio Pollaiuolo (in a red cap) stands to the left of Nero. Botticelli (in profile on the far right, wearing a red cloak and dark hat) and Filippino himself (who looks over his shoulder) are spectators in the Crucifixion scene. Another head, at the extreme right edge of the Dispute before Nero, was used for the woodcut portrait of Filippino in Vasari’s Lives. All the frescoes in the chapel were restored in 1984-89.
Florence. Santa Maria Novella. Chapel of Filippo Strozzi.
Episodes from the Lives of St John the Evangelist and St Philip. Frescoes.
The immensely wealthy banker Filippo Strozzi (the elder) acquired the rights to the chapel, which was to serve as his burial place, in July 1486, and the sculptor Benedetto da Maiano was commissioned to carve the altar and tomb (including the beautiful white marble tondo of the Virgin and Child flanked by flying angels). On 21 April 1487, Filippino contracted to paint the chapel. He alone was to execute the frescoes, using the best colours (including gold and lapis lazuli), and the work was to be completed by 1 March 1490. The agreed fee – 300 florins and the painter was to meet the costs of all materials – was comparatively low, which may help to explain why the project dragged on for so many years. Filippino had probably barely started work when he was awarded the more lucrative commission in September 1488 of painting Cardinal Carafa’s chapel in Rome. The frescoes were still not completed in 1497, when it is recorded that Lippi had stopped working because payments were not covering his costs. After Strozzi’s heirs promised an additional 100 florins, work re-started and Lippi received his last payment in November 1501.
The vault was painted first. The seated figures in the four triangular divisions represent Old Testament patriarchs: Adam (next to the Tree of Knowledge and serpent), Abraham (with knife), Noah (with ark and pair of doves) and Jacob (holding a ribbon referring to the gate of heaven).
Each sidewall shows a single miracle in a large square fresco and a martyrdom in the lunette above. The subjects are all taken from the Golden Legend. The Raising of Drusiana (left wall) is an apt subject for a funerary chapel and had appeared before in Florentine art (notably in Giotto’s fresco at Santa Croce and Donatello’s tondo in the Old Sacristy at San Lorenzo). Lippi’s signature and the date 1502 are inscribed on the right pilaster of the triumphal arch. The lunette shows the elderly evangelist plunged into a cauldron of boiling oil. The Emperor Domitian is shown on the left, rising from his throne to order an end to the torture. The St Philip banishes the Dragon on the opposite wall is a subject with no obvious precedents. In the apocryphal story, the dragon had burst from the base of a statue of Mars, which the pagans had tried to compel the apostle to worship, and had exuded fumes so poisonous that the king’s son had fallen dead. The people, reeling from the lethal stench, agree to destroy the idol, and St Philip banishes the noxious monster to the wilderness. The lunette shows the 87-year-old apostle’s subsequent crucifixion at Hierapolis.
The grotteschi decorations framing the frescoes were based on details Filippino had seen in Rome in the Golden House of Nero, and are among the first examples of such decoration in Florence. Vasari praised the ‘disegno bellissimo’ of the painted architecture on the window wall. While most painting on this wall is monochrome, there are, on top of the painted columns at the sides of the high window, pairs of angels in colour holding shields with the Strozzi arms and dangling inscription tablets from ribbons.
The frescoes were badly restored in 1859-61 (when the figure of Adam was removed from the vault and heavily repainted), cleaned in 1948, and thoroughly restored in 1985-86 (when the plaster was strengthened, the paintings cleaned and the gaps retouched). In 2015, the chapel was under restoration, following water damage caused by a leaking roof.
Filippino also designed the stained glass window, which was installed in 1503 and shows the Madonna between Angels and St John the Evangelist and St Philip. His signature is on the hem of the Virgin’s mantle. The stained glass was restored in 1973 after it was damaged in a burglary.
Florence. Santo Spirito. Nerli Chapel (south transept).
Madonna and Saints ('Pala de' Nerli'). Wood, 160 x 180.
This beautiful altarpiece is not documented, but early writers (Anonimo Magliabechiano, Billi and Vasari) say that it was painted by Filippino for Tanai de’ Nerli. Tanai is introduced by St Martin of Tours on the left of the enthroned Madonna, while St Catherine of Alexandria recommends his wife, Nanni di Neri di Gino Capponi, on the right. The presence of St Martin may be explained by Tanai’s membership of the Confraternity of San Martino dei Buonomini, while St Catherine was the name saint of the Nerli’s daughter. Two of the putti on the arches hold shields with the family coat-of-arms. Through the arcade is viewed the Porta San Frediano; in the street scene, Tanai and Nanni stand proudly by their palazzo with one of their children (Caterina?), a page wearing the family livery and a richly caparisoned horse. The carved and gilt wooden frame with the Nerli arms is original. Opinion has been divided over whether the picture was painted shortly before Filippino’s departure for Rome in 1488 or shortly after his return (1491-94). The classical Roman motifs (including the goat’s head and frieze with the Battle of the Titans on the throne and the decoration on the pilasters) have been cited as evidence for the later dating. It has been suggested that the family scene in the background could represent Tanai's departure for France in 1494 on a diplomatic mission. (He was sent there with Savonarola and three other ambassadors to negotiate with Charles VIII.) The altarpiece was restored for the exhibition Filippino Lippi e Sandro Botticelli held at the Quirinale in Rome in 2011-12.
Filippino also designed a window for the chapel depicting St Martin and the Beggar. The window is lost, but a presentation drawing for it is preserved in the Uffizi.
Genoa. Palazzo Bianco.
Madonna and Saints. Main panel, 298 x 185; lunette, 95 x 185.
The main panel shows St Sebastian, pierced with arrows and standing on an antique pedestal, between St John the Baptist and St Francis; in the lunette is the Madonna, half-length, between two angels. The predella is lost. One of Filippino’s very last works. The inscription on the pillar against which St Sebastian stands states that it was painted in 1503 for Napoleone Lomellini. An inscription on the back states it was sent from Florence on 1 February 1503 – which is 1504 modern style. It hung in Lomellini’s chapel in San Teodoro at Genoa. Taken to Paris in 1810 and returned in 1816 without its original frame. Purchased by the City of Genoa in 1920.
Glasgow. Art Gallery and Museum.
Madonna and Child with St John. Wood, 119 in dia.
The Christ Child stands on the parapet, supported by the Virgin and with one foot on a book. He embraces St John, who is introduced by an angel wearing a chaplet of white and red roses. On the left, another angel holds an open music book. This large tondo was bought in Florence for James Young in 1877 and presented by his daughter, Mrs Walker of Limefield, to the Gallery in 1901. Exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1882 as a work of Botticelli, and attributed by Berenson (1908 Lists) to Raffaellino del Garbo. The attribution to Filippino was made by Van Marle (1931). It is still disputed – with some subsequent writers on Filippino either ignoring the picture or preferring the old attribution to Raffaellino del Garbo. The museum presently classes the work as 'studio of Filippino Lippi'. The execution might be by more than one hand, the handling of some principal parts (such as the faces of the Virgin, St John and the angels) seeming of higher quality than much of the rest.
London. National Gallery.
Adoration of the Kings (no. 1124). Wood, 57 x 86.
In the rocky landscape are some tiny figures, including St Ambrose baptising St Augustine, Tobias and the Angel, St Francis receiving the Stigmata, St Jerome before a Crucifix and St Bernard experiencing a vision of the Virgin. An early work, once ascribed to ‘Amico di Sandro’, and perhaps dating from the mid-1470s. Parts are close in style to another Adoration of the Kings in the National Gallery (no. 592), which is usually attributed to Botticelli but may have been executed partly by Filippino. An inscription on the back suggests that it once belonged to Marchese Francesco Pier Maria Capponi of Florence (1688-1753) and was attributed to Botticelli. By 1833 it was in the Beckford collection at Bath. Purchased by the National Gallery from the Duke of Hamilton in 1882.
Virgin and Child with St John. Wood, 59 x 44.
The Child holds a pomegranate (traditional symbol of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection), while an open book (with writing that does not appear to make sense) and bowl of white dog roses (symbolising the Virgin’s purity) rest on the marble ledge. Acquired in Florence by Sir Charles Eastlake, and bought at his sale by the Gallery in 1894 as by Botticelli. It was another of the pictures attributed to ‘Amico di Sandro’ by Berenson in 1899. From 1917 to 1925 it was withdrawn from exhibition as a forgery, on the basis of a mistaken identification of the wood of the panel as American basswood. Now accepted as an early work of Filippino (late 1470s?).
In the main panel (203 x186) the Madonna and Child between the kneeling St Jerome, clutching a stone, and St Dominic, with lily and book. Behind Jerome is another, tiny figure of the saint kneeling in penitence deep in a cave. The saint’s lion protects the entrance of the cave from a bear. St Joseph, with the ass, is seen on the distant hill towards the middle, while the building at the right edge, behind Dominic, might be a Dominican hospital. High in the oak tree in the left corner, a great tit feeds a worm to its brood. In the predella (21 x 236) the dead Christ is supported by Joseph of Arimathea, with St Francis and the Magdalen at the sides; at the two ends are the arms of the Rucellai family. The altarpiece comes from the chapel of St Jerome, which belonged to the family, in the church of San Pancrazio at Florence (now the Marino Marini Museum). It was probably painted around 1485 – the date included in an inscription on the floor of the chapel. When the church was closed in 1808-9, the picture was retained by the Rucellai family, which sold it to the National Gallery in 1857 for £627.
Moses striking the Rock. Canvas (transferred), 78 x 138.
In the left background, Moses leads the Israelites out if Egypt. In the centre foreground, Moses smites the rock in the desert, causing water to flow from it. On the right, the Israelites collect the water and water their flocks. This picture and its pendant, the Adoration of the Golden Calf, may have decorated the wood panelling or wainscoting of a room. Once ascribed to Piero di Cosimo, they were attributed to Filippino in 1906 by Sir Claude Phillips. They are in Filippino’s late style and have been dated about 1500. They are usually now ascribed to a follower or to the 'Memphis Master' (an unidentified late assistant or follower of Filippino, named after a tondo in the Brooks Museum at Memphis). By 1873 both panels were owned by Sir Bernard Samuelson, whose son bequeathed them to the National Gallery in 1937.
Adoration of the Golden Calf. Wood, 78 x 137.
The Golden Calf of the Israelites is represented as the Egyptian god Apis, with a crescent moon on its shoulder; according to legend, the god would rise suddenly out of a river into the air, an event celebrated with music and wild dancing. The Apis had topical interest, as it was the emblem of the Borgia pope Alexandria VI. The musical instruments depicted include a circular tuba (buccina), two trumpets (one S-shaped and the other with two bells), a pair of nakers (small drums) and a tambourine. It is likely that there were other panels in the series, continuing the story of Moses. (A sheet of pen-and-ink drawings in Prague has what appears to be a sketch for Moses striking the Rock on one side and a sketch for another episode – either Moses before Pharoah or the Trial of Moses – on the other.)
Angel Adoring. Wood, 56 x 26.
A fragment, possibly of a tondo representing the Virgin and Child with St John. The top of a head (presumably that of the Christ Child or infant St John) is just visible at the bottom edge. The Head of an Angel at Strasbourg is possibly a fragment from the same picture. One of some 400 paintings left to the nation in 1876 by the silk merchant and Liberal politician Wynn Ellis.
Adoration of the Kings (no. 592). Wood, 50 x 136.
This long horizontal panel, crowded with some sixty small figures, could have served as the front of a chest or been set into the panelling of a room. It has had a somewhat circular attributional history. It was considered to be by Filippino Lippi when acquired by the National Gallery in 1857 with the Lombardi-Baldi collection. In 1883 it was reattributed independently by J. P. Richter and Giovanni Morelli to Botticelli as one of his earliest works, and by the early twentieth century this view had won general acceptance. Some later critics (beginning with Salvini in 1957) have suspected that the picture is either a workshop collaboration between Botticelli and Filippino or a picture started by Filippino and finished by Botticelli, and in recent years it has been exhibited as a joint-product of both painters. Zambrano (in her 2004 monograph with Nelson) argues that the younger artist was responsible for the original composition and for the most important figures (including Joseph, the Virgin and two kneeling kings). The picture has sometimes been dated about 1472, on the grounds that Filippino is recorded that year as living in Botticelli’s house. Much abraded in parts (especially towards the upper left corner and on the right around Joseph).
London. Ranger's House. On loan from the Trustees of the Wernher Collection.
'Wernher Madonna'. Wood, 85 in dia.
This tondo is composed like an Adoration of the Child but incorporates elements of a Nativity (the ox and ruined wall) and a Rest on the Flight into Egypt (the saddle and St Joseph with the ass). Once considered a late work (it was listed as such, for example, in the early twentieth-century editions of Berenson's Florentine Painters), but recent criticism has tended to place it comparatively early (early or mid-1480s). First recorded in the collection of the French banker Rodolphe Kann. Sold to Agnew's in 1898 for £3,300 and bought by the immensely wealthy diamond magnate Sir Juilius Wernher. It hung with the Wernher collection at Bath House in Piccadilly and then, after the War, at Luton Hoo in Bedfordshire. It was put up for sale at Christie's in 2000 but remained with the Wernher Trustees, who made a long-term loan of the collection to English Heritage in 2002. The 'Wernher Madonna' currently hangs in the Red Room at Ranger's House.
Lucca. San Michele in Foro (south transept).
Four Saints (‘Magrini Altarpiece’). Wood, 145 x 155.
St Roch turns towards St Sebastian, who holds an arrow; next to him is St Jerome, his lion peeking out from behind his legs; and on the right is St Helena with her cross. The panel seems to have been cut at the top and sides. One of Filippino’s earliest securely attributed works (about 1483). Vasari mentions that Filippino worked in Lucca, but records specifically only an altarpiece for San Ponziano (two panels of which are now in the Norton Simon Foundation, Pasadena).
Memphis (Tenn.). Brooks Memorial Art Gallery.
Saint Francis in Glory. Wood, 179 x 149.
Probably a very late work, partly executed by assistants. The kneeling figures – the Blessed Lucchesius of Poggibonsi, St Louis of Toulouse, St Elizabeth of Hungary and the Blessed Bona – are all Franciscans. Possibly one of the altarpieces mentioned by Vasari as painted for the church of San Salvatore at Florence. Once in the collection of the famous Florentine antiquarian Stefano Bardini; acquired by Samuel H. Kress from Conte Contini Bonacossi and allotted to the Memphis Gallery in 1958.
Munich. Alte Pinakothek.
Intercession of Christ and Virgin. Wood, 159 x 148.
Christ, pointing to his wounds, and the Virgin plead on behalf of mankind to God the Father, in the clouds. The Annunciation is depicted in the top corners. The predella (30 x 149) shows the Man of Sorrows with six Franciscan and Dominican saints (Bernardino, Louis, Francis, Dominic, Clare and Catherine of Siena). Usually identified as the picture mentioned by Vasari that was painted by Filippino for the barefoot friars of San Francesco al Palco at Prato. It may date from the mid-1490s. The monastery was suppressed in 1785, and the altarpiece was acquired in Florence by Ludwig I of Bavaria in 1814-16.
Annunciation with the Baptist and St Andrew. Wood, 114 x 124.
In the background is a view of Florence, with the Cathedral, the tower of the Bargello and the campanile of the Badia. The picture came to the Galleria Francavilla from the church of San Luigi dei Francesi. Traditionally ascribed to Domenico Ghirlandaio and later given to Raffaellino del Garbo (Burckhardt) and ‘the circle of Fra Filippo’ (Crowe and Cavalcaselle). The attribution to Filippino was made by Berenson, who dated it 1483-85.
New Haven. Yale University Art Gallery.
Christ on the Cross. Wood, 33 x 26.
This ruined small panel is probably a relatively late work of Filippino or his workshop. Acquired by Yale in 1871 with the huge collection assembled in Florence by James Jackson Jarves, who was probably responsible for having it repainted in oil. Rigorous cleaning in 1961-62, removing all additions that were deemed unoriginal, has left little except the preparatory gesso and charcoal underdrawing. Another, better preserved version, formerly at Denver, was acquired by the Commune of Prato in 2010.
New York. Metropolitan Museum.
Madonna and Child. Wood, 81 x 60.
The townscape, glimpsed through the arcade on the left, is executed with Flemish detail, and includes a man fishing with a long spear, a woman fetching water and two workmen crossing a bridge. The pomegranate on the table symbolises Christ’s Passion and Resurrection. This beautiful panel was presumably commissioned by a member of the Strozzi family, whose coat-of-arms with the crescent moon appears both on the roundel on the arch and on the capital of the column on the left, and it has been suggested that it could have been painted for the oratory built by Filippo Strozzi at Santuccio. It is a fairly early work (middle or late 1480s). It is first certainly recorded only around 1900, when it was in the collection of Don Marcello Massarenti of Rome. It was then in Germany, in the collection of Professor Götz Martius at Kiel. Acquired in 1923 by Duveen, who sold it in 1928 for $200,000 to Jules S. Bache, who bequeathed his collection to the Metropolitan Museum in 1949. Thick discoloured varnish was removed in a 2010 restoration. There is a near replica by Piero di Cosimo, which exactly repeats the poses of the Virgin and Child, in the Royal Collection at Stockholm.
Virgin Adoring. Wood, 32 x 25.
A fragment cut from a picture of the Nativity. The complete composition is known from a copy at Avignon. Usually ascribed to Filippino’s workshop. Acquired in Florence by a Mrs Ben Haggin, it has been in New York since the 1920s and was acquired by the museum in 1982.
Madonna and Child with St Joseph and an Angel. Canvas (transferred), 56 x 38.
Once regarded as a late work of Filippino, this picture has been attributed more recently to his pupil Raffaellino del Garbo (who may have based the composition on a cartoon or drawings by his master). First recorded in the possession of Ivan Iraklievich Kuris of Odessa, whose widow sold it to Duveen in 1911. Bought shortly afterwards for $95,000 by Benjamin Altman, who bequeathed his collection to the Metropolitan Museum in 1913.
Ottawa. National Gallery of Canada.
Two Cassone Panels. Wood, 48 x 42.
These two cassone ends represent episodes – Esther before the Royal Palace and Mordecai honoured by Haman – from the story of Esther. Other panels from the same series are in Florence (Horne Museum), Chantilly, Paris and Rome (Galleria Pallavicini-Rospigliosi). Sold by the Florentine Torrigiani family by 1892. The Ottawa panels entered the collection of the Princes of Liechtenstein at Vienna (and later Vaduz), and were acquired by the National Gallery of Canada in 1953.
Oxford. Christ Church.
The Wounded Centaur. Wood, 78 x 69.
The centaur, shot through the hoof by an arrow and examining a quiver, might be Cheiron, who (in Ovid’s Fausti) dropped one of Hercules’ poisoned arrows on his foot. Cupid sleeps in the mouth of the cave on the right, and the picture might be intended as an allegory either of the civilising power of love or of the dangers of playing with love. Part of the collection of paintings formed by W. T. H. Fox-Strangways, later 4th Earl of Ilchester, when he was charge d’affaires in Tuscany, which he gave to his old college in 1828 and 1834. It is said to have been damaged by seawater when it was shipped to England. An early and faithful copy at Chambéry has been ascribed to the 'Memphis Master'. On the back of the panel, there is an unfinished drawing of three allegorical female figures. This drawing, which has been thought to represent the Triumph of Love or Birth of Venus, was displayed to the public for the first time in an exhibition, Filippino Lippi and Drawings in Florence around 1500, held at the Christ Church Gallery in March-July 2016.
Five Sibyls. Wood, 74 x 141.
The Samian, Cumaean, Hellespontic, Phrygian and Tiburtine Sibyls (identified by the inscription) are seated in niches. One of a pair of Five Sibyls donated by Fox-Strangways. Previously crudely overpainted, their high quality was revealed by cleaning in 1948 and they were exhibited in public for the first time only in 1960. They are believed to have been painted in Botticelli’s studio in the early or mid-1470s – one by the young Filippino and the other by another assistant (or Botticelli himself).
Story of Virginia. Wood, 41 x 125.
On the left Virginia, falsely accused of being the daughter of a slave, is seized by Marcus Claudius; in the centre she is sentenced by the tribunal presided over by the decemvir Appius Claudius; and on the right she is killed by her father, the centurion Lucius Virginius, to save her from slavery. The three scenes are shown against a continuous background of an arcade opening onto a broad landscape. A companion panel to the Lucrezia in the Pitti Palace. An early work (late 1470s?), traditionally ascribed to Botticelli and given by Berenson to his ‘Amico di Sandro’. Acquired in 1863 with the huge collection of the Marquis de Campana at Rome.
Story of Esther. Wood, 48 x 132.
The panel shows Mordecai lamenting (left), Esther swooning before Ahasuerus (centre) and the revocation of the edict against the Jews. Another early work formerly ascribed to ‘Amico di Sandro’. One of a series of panels from two cassoni illustrating the story of Esther; the others are at Ottawa, Chantilly, Florence (Horne Museum) and Rome (Galleria Pallavicini-Rospigliosi). From the Palazzo Torrigiani at Florence, and later in the Paris collections of Leopold Goldschmid, Conte Pastre and the Contesse de Vogue. Acquired by the Louvre in 1972.
Madonna and Child with Two Angels. Wood, 80 x 55.
The Child holds a pomegranate. Now classed by the Louvre as a very early work of Filippino Lippi, having been previously catalogued as a work of Botticelli's school and listed by Berenson (1963) as a work of collaboration between Botticelli and Filippino. Bequeathed to the Louvre in 1899 by Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild. A version in the Petit Palais at Avignon is very similar in composition but was clearly executed by a different hand.
Pasadena. Norton Simon Museum.
Two Panels of Saints. Wood, 156 x 59.
St Paul (with sword) is paired with St Frediano (patron saint of Lucca) on one panel, and St Benedict with St Apollonia (holding a tooth and pincers) on the other. Identified by Meiss (1973) as the wings of an altarpiece commissioned by Nicola di Stefano Bernardi for the church of San Ponziano at Lucca (near Porta Elisa). They are Filippino’s earliest documented works. The contract was signed on 23 September 1482 and final payment was made on 29 September 1483. The altarpiece also included an Annunciation (now lost) and a statue of St Anthony Abbot (which is still in the church). The buildings in the background of the two panels (a city with towers and spires in the SS. Benedict and Apollonia and a watermill in the SS. Paul and Frediano) are derived from those in a picture by Hans Memling (originally the central panel of a triptych painted for the Florentine Bishop Benedetto Pagagnotti and now in the Uffizi). The profile representation of St Frediano bears a remarkable resemblance to Piero di Cosimo’s portrait of Francesco Giamberti in Amsterdam (even down to the ear bent back under the mitre). The panels were removed from the church in about 1800. They were in the collection of the Earls of Lucan at Laleham in Middlesex until 1964, when they were sold at Sotheby’s.
Poggio a Caiano (9 km south of Prato). Medici Villa.
Sacrifice of Laocoön. Remains of fresco.
The unfinished fresco, on the right wall of the loggia, is now very abraded. Vasari refers to it merely as ‘a Sacrifice’, and the subject was only identified in the early 1930s on the evidence of preparatory drawings in the Uffizi and elsewhere. Apart from manuscript illustrations of Virgil’s Aeneid, Filippino’s fresco is almost the only known depiction of the subject in Italian art before 1506, when the famous Hellenistic marble group was discovered on the Esquiline. Vasari says that the fresco was painted for Lorenzo de’ Medici; but some writers have argued, on grounds of style, that Filippino is unlikely to have begun the actual work until some years after Lorenzo’s death in 1492. The fresco was detached and restored in 1950, and restored again in the early 1990s.
Prato. Galleria Comunale.
Frescoed Tabernacle. Centre, 226 x 108; wings, 170 x 82.
The Virgin is enthroned between St Catherine on the right, who kneels with St Stephen behind her, and St Margaret, who kneels with St Anthony Abbot on the other side. The inscription, above the saints at the sides, gives the date 1498, and the coat-of-arms of the Tieri family appears, centre bottom, on the painted frame. The tabernacle was originally on the Canto al Mercatale at Prato, and later on the corner of the Strada di Santa Margherita. The house it was attached to was entirely destroyed by a bomb in March 1944. The tabernacle was protected by a brick wall and sandbags but suffered great damage. It was carefully reconstructed from numerous fragments and restored in 1946. It had already been damaged by exposure and the faces, in particular, are much repainted.
Madonna with John the Baptist and St Stephen. Wood, 135 x 120.
St Stephen, shown with a stone lodged in his skull and holding the red cross banner of the Resurrection, is patron saint of Prato; John the Baptist, holding his scroll and reed cross, is patron saint of Florence. The picture is one of Filippino’s last works. It was ordered for the Commune of Prato in February 1502 for thirty large gold florins (including expenses) and completed by 28 April 1503 (the date 1503 is inscribed on the original carved and gilded frame). It was painted in Filippino's Florentine workshop and transported to Prato at the painter's expense (saving the Commune two florins). Rather damaged: the figures are all much abraded. Restored at the end of the nineteenth century and three times in the twentieth century (most recently in 1989).
Crucifixion. Wood, 31 x 23.
This small panel repeats the figure of the crucified Christ in a picture, formerly at Berlin, of the Crucifixion with the Virgin and St Francis (which was the central panel of an altarpiece painted by Filippino around 1498-1500 for the Valori Chapel in the church of San Procolo at Florence). Donated by Mrs Simon Guggenheim in 1955 to the Denver Museum, which sold it at Christie’s, New York, for $122,500 in 2010 in aid of its acquisition fund. Classed by Zambrano and Nelson (2004) as a work of ‘Filippino or close collaborator’. There are other versions, similar in size but in poorer condition, in the Yale Gallery at New Haven and in an English private collection.
Raleigh (North Carolina). Museum of Art.
Saint Donatus; Saint Augustine. Wood, 30 x 21.
The two bishop saints, identified by inscriptions, are represented half-length, standing behind parapets. Donatus of Fiesole is shown praying, with his eyes raised to heaven, while Augustine of Hippo is represented as a scholar, studying a book and with other volumes piled in front of him. These two small panels are thought to have belonged to the predella of the altarpiece of the Adoration of the Magi, completed in 1496 for the Augustinian monks of San Donato a Scopeto. The main panel is now in the Uffizi. Three other panels from the predella are still in private hands. One (representing Christ as Man of Sorrows) was sold at Christie's, New York, in January 2010. The two others (one representing St Ubaldo and St Frediano and the other St Albino and St Bernardo di Mentone) were once in the collection of the Earl of Ashburnham and later in a private German collection. The Raleigh panels were acquired by Samuel H. Kress from the dealer Contini Bonacossi in 1935 and donated to the museum in 1960.
Rome. Santa Maria sopra Minerva. Carafa Chapel (2nd chapel, south transept).
Annunciation and Assumption of Virgin; Triumph of St Thomas. Frescoes.
Cardinal Oliviero Carafa (Neapolitan nobleman, Archbishop of Naples, former commander of the papal fleet, and Protector of the Dominican Order) acquired the chapel in 1486 as his burial place. He dedicated it to St Thomas Aquinas (to whom he was distantly related on his mother’s side) and had it elegantly renovated with a new marble altar, marble floor and entrance arch. Vasari’s claim that Lorenzo de’ Medici asked Filippino Lippi, who was already contracted to decorate Filippo Strozzi’s chapel in Florence, to take on the commission for painting Carafa’s chapel is borne out by surviving correspondence. The contract was signed on 2 September 1488. The work was finished probably by 1490 or early 1491 (and certainly by 19 May 1493, when Alexander VI issued a papal bull granting indulgences to those who worshipped in the chapel). According to Vasari, it was valued by the painters Antoniazzo Romano and Lanzilago Padovano at 2,000 ducats.
On the altar wall, Lippi has frescoed an altarpiece within a richly ornamented frame (made of stucco but imitating marble). It represents the Annunciation, with St Thomas Aquinas recommending Cardinal Carafa to the Virgin. The surrounding wall represents the Assumption of the Virgin. Eleven apostles are shown at the sides, gazing upwards in amazement as the Virgin ascends on a cloud, encircled by delightful angel musicians. In the left background, doubting Thomas raises his hands to catch the Virgin’s girdle.
On the right wall is shown the Triumph of Saint Thomas. The saint is enthroned on a high dais between allegorical female figures (Grammar, Rhetoric, Dialectics and Philosophy) and with his feet on a vanquished devil. The defeated heretics (some identified by inscriptions) include Arius and Sabellius, whose heresies are legibly inscribed on the pages of two books on the ground. The two youths in the right-hand group are (unreliably) said to be Giovanni and Giulio de’ Medici (the future Popes Leo X and Clement VII). The background views include the statue of Marcus Aurelius (left) and the harbour at Ripa Grande (right). Above, in the lunette, St Thomas kneels before the miraculous speaking crucifix. (The figures on the right have not been certainly identified, though the two women have been supposed to be the saint’s mother and sister Marotta.)
In the triangles of the vault are represented four gracefully reclining Sibyls: the Cumaean (above the Assumption), the Hellespontian (above the Miracle of Saint Thomas), the Delphic (above the left wall) and the Tiburtine (above the entrance). The frescoes on the left wall represented the Victory of the Theological Virtues over Vices; they were destroyed in 1566 by the erection of a monument to Pope Paul IV Carafa.
The barrel vault of the small sepulchre next to the chapel is decorated with a classical design and depictions of the Roman heroine Virginia. According to Vasari, it was painted by Lippi with the help of his pupil Raffaellino del Garbo.
San Gimignano. Museo Civico.
Annunciation. Two tondi: 110 in dia.
Next to the Virgin’s bed hangs a small mechanical clock – a rare object in a painting of this period. The two tondi were commissioned for eighty lire in February 1483 and were finished by May 1484. They hung in a room (called the Audientia) of the Palazzo Comunale which served as a meeting place for the priors. They are among Filippino’s earliest precisely datable pictures. The carved wooden frames are almost contemporary: they were ordered in 1490.
St Petersburg. Hermitage.
Adoration of the Child. Copper (transferred in 1831), 53 in dia.
The Virgin adores the Child in a garden enclosed by a low wall and balustrade. Four angels kneel round her, two also paying homage to the Child and two holding the Virgin’s mantle above the grass; two more angels, in white with transparent wings, hover behind. Early (1480-85). The composition in some respects resembles that of a tondo by Francesco Botticini in the Pitti Palace. Bought by Count V. Trubetskoy in Arezzo, and given by him to Senator D. M. Mordavinov, who sold it to Count Stroganov in 1859 for 5,000 francs. Bequeathed to the Hermitage in 1911.
Annunciation. Wood, 35 x 51.
Though Lionello Venturi attributed this small panel to Raffaellino del Garbo, most critics have considered it a mature work of Filippino, painted in the 1490s. The brass lamp on the Virgin’s desk also appears in Filippino’s Strozzi Madonna in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. This small panel is possibly from a predella; but the degree of detail and the careful execution suggests that it is more likely to have been painted as an independent devotional work. It was first noticed by Crowe and Cavalcaselle (1864) when it was in the Puccini collection at Pistoia. It was transferred to the Hermitage in 1922 from the Stroganoff Palace at Petrograd.
Spoleto. Museo Diocesano.
Madonna and Two Saints. Wood, 110 x 110.
A version of the Rucellai Altarpiece (London, National Gallery), in which the landscape is replaced by a decorated gold ground. The two standing saints are Florentius of Foligno and Bartholomew. The picture, which retains its original frame, was transferred from the church of San Montano at Todiano in 1980. The execution is ascribed largely or wholly to an assistant (possibly the young Raffaellino del Garbo).
Strasbourg. Musée des Beaux-Arts.
Head of Angel. Wood, 36 x 31.
A fragment, possibly from the same picture as the Angel Adoring in the London National Gallery. Acquired in Florence by Wilhelm von Bode in 1887 from the painter, restorer and dealer Elia Volpi.
Turin. Galleria Sabauda.
Three Archangels. Wood (transferred to canvas in 1982), 100 x 127.
Raphael, with Tobias, strolls between Michael and Gabriel. An early work (early 1480s?), once ascribed to Berenson’s ‘Amico di Sandro’ and probably just a little later than the small painting of Tobias and the Angel by Filippino in Washington. The composition is loosely related to that of the famous picture by Botticini in the Uffizi. Probably the ‘Tobias with the Angel by Filippino Fiorentino’ recorded in the 1603 inventory of Pietro Aldobrandini’s collection in Rome. Purchased by the Galleria in 1857 from Baron Garriod.
Venice. Seminario. Galleria Manfredini.
Christ and the Samaritan Woman; ‘Noli Me Tangere’. Wood, each 55 x 15.
At the bottom of each panel is a monochrome of two angels holding a scroll with a quotation from St John’s Gospel. Two wings, painted for a Flemish panel of the Veil of Veronica (now attributed to the Bruges ‘Master of the St Ursula Legend’), to form an unusual triptych. In 1503, the triptych is mentioned in the will of the Florentine merchant Francesco del Pugliese (a ‘panel on which is painted a head of Christ made in Flanders with two wings painted by the hand of Filippo di Fra Filippo Lippi’). Francesco del Pugliese may have acquired the Flemish panel when he was in the Netherlands on a business trip. By 1638 the triptych was in the Medici collection at the Villa Ferdinanda. After they had entered the Manfredini collection, the wings were strangely catalogued under the name of the seventeenth-century artist Giovanni Battista Crespi, before Crowe and Cavalcaselle recognised them as ‘two beautiful and perfectly preserved specimens of Filippino’. They probably date from about 1500.
Washington. National Gallery.
Tobias and the Angel. Wood, 33 x 23.
Tobias holds a little fish and the Archangel Raphael a golden mortar. This exquisite, small, exceptionally well-preserved picture was probably a portable panel, commissioned or bought as a votive image by someone seeking protection on a journey or a cure for blindness. It is first recorded in 1868, when it was loaned (as a work of Antonio Pollaiuolo) by Alexander Barker to the National Exhibition at Leeds. It was attributed by Berenson to his ‘Amico di Sandro’ in 1899, after it had entered Robert Benson’s collection in London. Since the 1930s, it has been recognised as a very early work of Filippino (about 1475-80). It was acquired (with the entire Benson collection) in 1927 by Duveen, who sold it to Kress in 1936.
Coronation of the Virgin. Wood, 91 x 223.
A lunette, which could have crowned an altarpiece or hung over a door of a chapel or sacristy. Ascribed in the past to Filippo Lippi (or his assistant Fra Diamante), ‘Amico di Sandro’ and Botticelli, it is now recognised as one of Filippino’s earliest surviving works. It may have been painted in Botticelli’s studio, and Zambrano (2004) ascribes the two angels to the master. Bought by William Kerr, 8th Marquess of Lothian, in 1861, as a work of Filippo Lippi, from William Blundell Spence, an English dealer in Florence. It remained at Newbattle Abbey, Dalkeith, until 1940, when it sold after the death of the 11th Marquess and acquired by Kress (via Duveen).
Adoration of the Child. Wood, 83 x 57.
Another early work (about 1475-80). There is a somewhat similar Adoration in the Uffizi, in which the infant St John the Baptist replaces the (curiously under-sized) angel on the left. The flowers – strawberries and jasmine – in the grass are symbols of Mary. Acquired by Grand Duke Georg II of Saxe-Meningen by 1872 (as a work of Filippino). Sold by his heirs in 1929 to Duveen, and acquired by Andrew Mellon in 1936.
Pietà. Wood, 19 x 35.
In front of the rock-cut tomb, the dead Christ is supported on the edge of the sarcophagus by the turbaned Nicodemus (or Joseph of Arimathea) and two angels. One angel holds three nails and the other the crown of thorns. Well preserved (though the flesh parts have a marked crack-pattern). Probably the central panel of a predella, though no companion panels are known. It has been suggested that the predella could have belonged to the altarpiece painted in 1501 for the Casali Chapel in the church of San Domenico at Bologna and still in situ (though there is no record of the altarpiece having had a predella). The Pietà is said to have been bought by Charles Fairfax Murray in about 1900 at Bologna railway station, and was sold to Robert Benson in 1902. Acquired by Frederick Housman of New York from Duveen in 1931, and purchased by the Kress Foundation in 1952. The cartoon, executed in pen-and-ink and pricked for transfer, is preserved in the Allen Museum at Oberlin, Ohio.
Portrait of a Youth. Wood, 52 x 37.
This portrait of a confident youth, shown almost full-face, wearing a red hat and deep mauve tunic, is damaged and heavily restored. (The blue sky is overpainted and there is repaint on the face and hair.) Acquired as a work of Botticelli in 1890 by Prince Johann II of Liechtenstein from the famous Florentine collector and dealer Stefano Bardini. Berenson’s attribution to ‘Amico di Sandro’ was revised to the young Filippino Lippi in his 1932 Lists. The attribution is still disputed. Miklós Boskovits went for Botticelli in his entry in the 2003 catalogue of fifteenth-century Italian paintings at Washington, but the gallery curators retained the attribution to Filippino.