MASTER of the Bambino Vispo
(active 1420s in Florence)


Italian painter, possibly identified as Starnina. A group of paintings were assembled under the name the Master of the Bambino Vispo. These included the Virgin and Child with Saints and Angels (Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence), the Virgin of Humility (Museum of Art, Philadelphia), a triptych of the Virgin and Child with Music-making Angels and Four Saints (Galleria Doria-Pamphili, Rome) and an altarpiece wing with Sts Mary Magdalene and Lawrence and a Cardinal Donor (Berlin, Bodemuseum). His name (Master of the Lively Child) was chosen on account of the particularly lively expression and movement of the Christ Child in the paintings. The altar wing was associated with a documented altarpiece of St Lawrence, which, it was then believed, had been donated to Florence Cathedral by Cardinal Pietro Corsini in 1422. This date provided the starting-point from which to relate the Master to other 15th-century Florentine painters.

Critics believed the painter to be a distant follower of Lorenzo Monaco and noted his apparent interest in the psychology of the figures as well as a marked sense for the decorative that set him apart from his contemporaries. The Master was accepted by art historians, but the attempts to identify the painter with Pietro di Domenico da Montepulciano or Parri Spinelli were not seriously pursued. The question was raised as to whether the Master's obvious indebtedness to the Late Gothic style could be explained solely by the influence of Lorenzo Monaco, or whether it might result from direct contact with the centres of Late Gothic painting, particularly Valencia.

Many of the works formerly attributed to the Master of the Bambino Vispo are now believed to be by Gherardo Starnina, but the entire oeuvre formerly attributed to the Master of the Bambino Vispo has generally not been identified with Starnina; thus some of this anonymous master's work is yet to be associated with a known artist.