Fra Filippo Lippi | The Reluctant Friar
Born Filippo di Tommaso di Lippo, the Florentine
painter known to history simply as Fra Filippo Lippi
(1406-1469) was raised in a Carmelite friary. Although he took
his vows in 1421, Fra Filippo Lippi found himself unsuited to
the monastic lifestyle. Fra Filippo Lippi left the friary with
a nun whom he later married after engaging in an illicit love
affair. Fra Filippo Lippi's wife bore him two children, one of
whom was a son who became a master in his own right,
Virgin with Child
& Scenes from the Life of St.
by Fra Filippo Lippi
1452. Oil on panel,
135 cm diameter
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti),
here to see our fine art
Vasari, Fra Filippo Lippi became interested in painting by
observing Masaccio working in the
Carmine church. Even prior to leaving the convent in 1432, Fra
Filippo Lippi was already known as a talented fresco painter.
He enjoyed the support of the Medici
family, and such support earned him an important papal
commission in 1447 for the Florentine Signoria for his
fresco work of St. Bernard's Vision of the Virgin.
Fra Filippo Lippi's later painting style is linear, lyrical,
and decorative, a product of his own fantastic imagination. Fra
Filippo Lippi's architectural style may be derived through
observation of other artists' works (Luca della
Robbia, Donatello) rather than
through direct observation of actual architecture. Fra Filippo
Lippi was more interested in nature and landscape depiction.
Fra Filippo Lippi's work was lauded by Domenico
Veneziano, and he was probably Sandro
Botticelli's teacher and influential to many other artists
of his time. He was also a major influence on the
Pre-Raphaelites, an artistic movement of the 19th century.
Brenda Harness, Art Historian