Fra Filippo Lippi, c.1406–1469, called Lippo Lippi, was one of the foremost Florentine painters of the early Renaissance. One of the best colorists and draftsmen of his day, Fra Filippo excelled in a graceful, narrative style. His religious painting is always decorative and full of keen observation and human interest. An orphan, he spent much of his youth in the convent of the Carmelites. He may have studied directly under Masaccio, whose influence is evident in his early works.
Temperamentally unsuited for the life of a monk, he left the convent c.1431. A few years later he executed an altarpiece (since lost) for the cathedral in Padua that distinctly influenced northern Italian painters. He was a highly popular artist in Florence and enjoyed the constant patronage of the Medici. In the 1450s he was at Prato, decorating the choir of the cathedral. These great frescoes, representing scenes from the lives of John the Baptist and St. Stephen, are Lippi's most important works. In 1467 he painted a series of frescoes from the life of the Virgin in the cathedral at Spoleto, where he is buried. These were completed after his death by Fra Diamante.
Lippi is perhaps best known through his many easel paintings, among which are the famous Coronation of the Virgin, painted (1441) for the altar of the nuns of Sant' Ambrogio, and Virgin Adoring the Christ Child (Uffizi); Madonna with Saints (Louvre); Annunciation and Vision of St. Bernard (National Gall., London); Coronation with Saints and Donors (Palazzo Venezia, Rome); Four Saints (damaged) and Madonna and Child with Angels (both: Metropolitan Mus.). Among Fra Filippo's pupils were Botticelli and Il Pesellino.
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