LIPPI, Fra Filippo
(b. 1406, Firenze, d. 1469, Spoleto)

Confirmation of the Carmelite Rule (detail)

c. 1432
Museo di Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence

Fra Filippo Lippi's artistic origins should be located directly in Santa Maria del Carmine, where at a very young age he was exposed to Masaccio's frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel, as well as another work, now lost, in the cloister. It is possible that Lippi could have been an assistant to Masaccio. One of Lippi's earliest independent works that can be identified is a fresco for the convent there illustrating the Rules of the Carmelite Order. This fresco has suffered from exposure to the weather but one can see the simplification of the draperies and the spatial composition that recalls the by now deceased Masaccio.

This fresco is neither documented nor signed, and its assumed authorship is based on stylistic and circumstantial evidence. Enough of it remains to locate it within the ambiance of Masaccio's Brancacci Chapel frescoes and, of course, it was only a few yards away physically; furthermore, it permits the assumption of Lippi's direct apprenticeship with Masaccio. In the Rules the Frate demonstrates insistent reduction of details, especially in the impressive landscape into which several separate episodes are placed; the artist accomplished a well-conceived interaction of natural landscape, architecture, and figures. The actors, mostly friars, are broadly modeled, and their proportions are inconceivable without Masaccio's example.