LIPPI, Fra Filippo
(b. 1406, Firenze, d. 1469, Spoleto)
Adoration of the Magic. 1445
Tempera on wood, diameter 137 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington
This tondo has long been the subject of scholarly debate over its authorship which has oscillated between Fra Filippo Lippi and Fra Angelico. It was painted for Cosimo de' Medici, or at least we know it was in the Medici Palace according to an inventory taken in 1492 where it was listed as by Fra Angelico.
Following the three kings a splendid procession, symbolizing all the races of mankind, waits to pay homage to the new-born Christ. The peacock is a symbol of the Resurrection. Some scholars believe that Fra Angelico laid out the composition and painted the Virgin and Child and at least some of the figures at the upper right; then his associate and fellow monk Fra Filippo Lippi completed the work.
The Virgin is the only one of the main figures in the work considered to be by Angelico.