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

Coronation of the Virgin (detail)

Tempera on wood
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

The Virgin is a key focal point in the pictorial imagery. Of all the figures, she is the most illuminated, lit by a strong raking light from the left. She is clearly visible, isolated in the open space of the upper dais. Her rose and light blue garments stand out beside the darker red lake and ultramarine of the robes of God the Father. But in spite of this spotlit place at centre stage, the dramatic presence of the Virgin is intentionally undercut by having her turn away from the viewer toward God the Father and by concealing the lines of her body beneath swathes of drapery. Her profile is barely visible.

This rendering of the Virgin was consistent with the image upheld before the Benedictine nuns for whom the altarpiece was executed at the high altar of the church of Sant'Ambrogio. The Virgin was the ultimate model of humility, obedience, chastity, and virtue.