(Above: Portrait of a Man and Woman at a Casement (c. 1440). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City).
Fra’ Filippo Lippi (c. 1406 – 8 October 1469), aka Lippo Lippi, was a Florentine artist. In 1420 after his parents had died, he was admitted to the Carmelite Friars community of the Priory of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Florence. He stayed there until 1425, when he was ordained as a priest; remaining in residence until 1432.
- In 1452 he was appointed chaplain to the nuns at the Monastery of St. Mary Magdalene in Florence.
- His paintings became popular and he was supported by the Medici family.
- In June 1456, Fra Filippo moved to Prato (near Florence) to paint frescoes in the choir of the Cathedral.
In 1458, while engaged in this work, he set about painting a picture for the monastery chapel of St. Margherita, where he met the beautiful Lucrezia Buti, a novice of the Order. Lippi asked that she might be permitted to sit for the figure of the Madonna (or perhaps St. Margherita). Under that pretext, he engaged in sexual relations with her; abducted her to his own house, and kept her there despite the nuns’ efforts to reclaim her. Together Lippi and Lucrezia had a son Filippino Lippi, who became a painter; no less famous than his father.
Lippi spent his latter life in Spoleto, where he was commissioned to paint the apse of the Spoleto Cathedral; and it was here that Lippi died on or about the 8 October 1469. The cause of his death remains in dispute. One rumour suggests that the Pope granted Lippi a dispensation to marry Lucrezia, but before the permission arrived, Lippi had been poisoned by the indignant relatives of either Lucrezia or some lady who had replaced her in Lippi’s wandering affections.
- Lippi is buried on the right side of the transept within the Spoleto Cathedral.
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