Italian early Renaissance
painter, who brought a new note of informality and decorativeness to the
basic intellectualism of Florentine painting.
As a child,
Fra Filippo was placed by his widowed mother in the monastery of Santa
Maria del Carmine in Florence, where he received training as a painter
and took religious vows as a monk in 1421. His early works were highly
influenced by the earlier Florentine master
Masaccio. His fresco Reform
of the Carmelite Rule (1432, Forte di Belvedere, Florence) echoes Masaccio's
style in its use of imposing three-dimensional human figures; the Annunciation
(circa 1438, San Lorenzo, Florence) shows his mastery of Masaccio's newly
discovered principles of perspective.
Fra Filippo gradually abandoned Masaccio's precepts in favor of a more
decorative style that recalled the Gothic in its use of fluttering draperies,
attenuated figures, and glowing colors. He stressed the human aspects
of his scenes; his Madonnas are sweetly pious or appealingly pretty (although
sometimes lacking the spirituality of Madonnas by other painters), and
his depictions of the Christ child and of cherubs are often playful or
mischievous. In the famous Madonna and Child (1455, Uffizi Gallery, Florence),
for instance, a boy angel grins out of the painting directly at the viewer.
Much of this informality undoubtedly derives from his renunciation of
his vows and subsequent marriage in 1461. The painter Filippino Lippi
was his son.
In works such
as the fresco series Scenes from the Lives of Saint Stephen and John the
Baptist (1452-c. 1465, Prato Cathedral), Fra Filippo combined traditional
Gothic landscape elements with the new perspective style to create mysterious,
receding backgrounds for his works.
exerted a strong influence on later Florentine art. His style led directly
to that of the Florentine painter Sandro Botticelli, and the influence
of his Gothic settings can be seen in
Leonardo da Vinci's Madonna of the
Rocks. He died in Spoleto on October 9, 1469.