LIPPI, Fra Filippo
(b. 1406, Firenze, d. 1469, Spoleto)
Tempera on panel, 58 x 32 cm
Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan
Close in both style and dimensions, the Pietà in the Museo Poldi Pezzoli and the Penitent St Jerome in Altenburg are essentially pendants, conceived and executed at about the same time. They were intended for private devotion.
This painting, executed on an arched panel, is an extraordinarily refined Imago Pietatis: the dead Christ appears to rise from a sarcophagus attended by the Virgin and St John the Evangelist. Christ's body is wrapped in a shroud that leaves his torso exposed; his mother holds his head with her left arm, as the Evangelist supports Christ at the waist. The composition is not perfectly aligned with the central axis; instead the figures and the sarcophagus are shifted slightly to the right.