LIPPI, Fra Filippo
(b. 1406, Firenze, d. 1469, Spoleto)
Portrait of a Man and a Womanc. 1440
Tempera on wood, 64 x 42 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
This painting is, by common agreement, the first Italian portrait with a landscape background, and the first double portrait in Italian art. The sharply defined shadow cast by the male sitter onto the back wall probably relates to Pliny's well-known account of the origin of painting in the tracing of the contours of a cast shadow.
The attribution of this easel painting is debated. However, Lippi liked to paint profile portraits (like those of the donors in the Annunciation in the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome). His portraits are among the earliest in the Italian Renaissance.