Lippi, Fra Filippo
Florentine painter. His most important works include frescoes depicting the lives of St Stephen and St John the Baptist (1452-66; Prato Cathedral), which in their use of perspective and grouping of figures show the influence of Masaccio. He also painted many altarpieces featuring the Madonna.
Lippi was born in Florence and patronized by the Medici family. The painter and biographer Giorgio Vasari gave a colourful account of his life including how, as a monk, he was tried in the 1450s for abducting a nun (the mother of his son Filippino Lippi).
A Carmelite monk in early life, he is first mentioned as a painter 1431 and in his early work formed his style on that of Masaccio. He lost two church offices after being convicted of forgery. Pardoned and made chaplain of the convent of Sta Margherita in Prato, he then eloped with a nun, Lucrezia Buti, by whom he had two children, one of them the painter Filippino Lippi. A dispensation arranged by the Medici sanctioned their marriage.
Of his frescoes in Prato Cathedral, depicting events in the lives of St John the Baptist and St Stephen, the most important is the Death of St Stephen, in the background of which he introduced a portrait of himself, and that of Salome dancing.
His last years were spent in Spoleto, where with his pupil, Fra Diamante, he worked on frescoes of the life of the Virgin for the cathedral. He also painted many panel pictures and created that wistful type of beauty in his Madonnas (owing something to Fra Angelico) which was to be an ideal pursued by many Florentine masters of the 15th century.
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