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He was born poor sometime around 1406, the son of a butcher and a mother who died in childbirth (his), and orphaned early. Next-of-kin didn’t want to, or couldn’t, support him, and so he, like many others in his position, was consigned to the convent of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence. He did not want to be a Man of God; though he may have been devout, celibacy was not at all in his vocabulary.

Giorgio Vasari, perhaps his earliest biographer, wrote that if Lippi could not have a woman, he’d paint her (though evidence shows that perhaps the two were not mutually exclusive).

His artistic formation began in the cloister; he learned his painterly ABCs by studying the Brancacci Chapel, which just happened to be part of the monastic complex which had taken him in.

Many think he assisted Masolino, one of the artists. His work, much in demand, led him to the Medici and, eventually, to Spoleto, where he died in 1469.

Where to see paintings by Filippo Lippi:

            Madonna and Child, Uffizi, Florence

            Incoronation of the Virgin, Uffizi, Florence

            Madonna and Child with Stories from the life of the Virgin, Galleria Palatina, Palazzo Pitti, Florence

            Madonna and Child, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence

            Duomo, Prato

            Duomo, Spoleto

 

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