LIPPI, Filippino
(b. ca. 1457, Prato, d. 1504, Firenze)

Triumph of St Thomas Aquinas over the Heretics

Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome

This fresco by Filippino Lippi and his assistant Raffaellino del Garbo, is part of the decoration of the Carafa Chapel of the Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome.

The central scene of Aquinas confounding the heretics is inspired by the fourth book of Aquinas, the Summa contra Gentiles. Within an elaborate architectural stage is a central building with pilasters ornamented with torches, that was copied from an antique funerary monument. In the background are views of the Lateran and the Tiber. This may allude to Carafa's war against the Ottoman Turks, for he had departed from the Tiber to fight the Turks and when he returned to Rome, in January 1473, it was by Porta San Govanni.

In the fresco, Aquinas is surrounded by four female figures, representing Philosophy, Astronomy, Theology, and Grammar. At the sides, in the foreground, are the defeated heretics, among which can be identified Arius, Apollinarius, and Averroes (on the left) and Sabellius, Euchites, and Manes (on the right), with the books thrown down on the ground before them. The overall architecture is enlivened by elaborated grotesques and putti bearing inscriptions, as well as by a number of references to Carafa.