LIPPI, Fra Filippo
(b. 1406, Firenze, d. 1469, Spoleto)
Wood, 175 x 183 cm
San Lorenzo, Florence
The Annunciation that Lippi painted for the Martelli Chapel in the Medici church of San Lorenzo is among his most gratifying paintings. And as luck would have it, the altarpiece with its fine predella is still in the same place for which it was painted, a majestic space designed by Brunelleschi. Lippi here participates in a strong perspectival exercise, especially in the buildings that recede into the background. But perhaps the most distinctive aspect of the painting, aside from the placement of both Gabriel and Mary on the right half the picture space, is the trompe l'oeil, transparent vase at the bottom, ready to receive the lilies held by the angel. Here Lippi seems to rival the Flemish masters who were experts at rendering nature objectively.
The unusual pose that Lippi selected for his Mary Annunciate, with a strong twist of the body, has a parallel in Donatello's high relief Annunciation which the sculptor carved for the Cavalcanti Chapel in Santa Croce. In fact, the relationship of the standing Mary and the kneeling angel is the same in the two representations, although Lippi's style for representing faces is unmistakable and not related to Donatello's classicism of this period.