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Filippo Lippi
Dates: Italian, circa 1406 - 1469
Biographical Account:

Lippi was from Florence, and as an orphan grew up in a Carmelite friary. He took his monk’s vows in 1421 but the Prior, seeing his interest in drawing and artistic ability encouraged his talent.


Lippi was commissioned through his career to paint a number of altarpieces and frescoes for churches and institutions around Tuscany and Umbria, including the Palazzo Signoria in Florence, Prato Cathedral and Spoleto Cathedral. The powerful Medici family became his particular patrons. He became known especially for his depictions of the Madonna. One of his models for a Madonna figure, a nun called Lucrezia Buti became his mistress and they had two children together, one of them, Filippino also became a popular painter.


Despite this affair, and various colourful events in his life such as imprisonment and torture for fraud, and capture and enslavement by the Barbary Pirates (as recounted, possibly fictitiously by Vasari, an early Italian biographer of artists), Lippi’s work was greatly admired in his lifetime, and on his death (possibly caused by poison administered by another mistress) there was an argument over his burial place. The Medici and his patrons in Florence wanted him to be buried in Florence’s Cathedral. In the end, he was buried in Spoleto Cathedral where he was working on a fresco cycle. The cycle was finished by his assistant, Fra Diamante.

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