Renaissance Tales – IV: Filippo & Filippino Lippi

Filippo Lippi is not a name that rings a bell for those who are not familiar with Renaissance Art. The young Filippo who became a friar was definitely not the kind of ‘friar’ that the Church would hope for. More interested in painting than in his religion classes, he finally left the monastery, but kept his religious vows. One adventure after another, it was his artistic wizardry that saved him from the pirates that had kidnapped him and took him to North Africa for sale.

Back to Italy, his talent did not go unnoticed. The Medici took him under their patronage, and would save him later on when he did the unthinkable (and the unforgivable). It was while painting a picture for a monastery that he first met the charming Lucrezia Buti, a young nun (some say a girl in the custody of the nuns) that bewitched him. He convinced the nuns to let Lucrezia pose for the figure of the Madonna, and before they knew it, he had kidnapped her, had his way with her, and refused to give her back.

The scandal was assured, and so was the reaction of the Pope, if it was not for the intervention of the Medici, thanks to whom the Pope settled for a milder measure: a pardon for marrying Lucrezia, who bore him a child no less talented than his father: Filippino Lippi.

Unlike his father, Filippino gained the respect and appreciation of his fellows. Following an initial apprenticeship with Botticelli, he started receiving one commission after another, cementing his fame and his status among his contemporaries. His art had more ‘content’ than his father’s, and it hid many messages alluding to his intellectual activity. The day Filippino died, all the workshops in Florence closed in grief. Lippi the son was nothing like Lippo the father, but they both share the holy spirit (of artistic mastery).

Filippino Lippi Self-Portrait

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