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

Madonna and Child

c. 1450
Tempera and gold on wood, 80 x 53 cm
Fondazione Magnani Rocca, Mamiano di Traversetolo

Lippi painted only a few devotional panels of the Madonna and Child, scarcely a dozen may be ascribed to him with confidence, yet each is a landmark in the genre. The present Madonna and Child at first seem slightly conservative - a throwback to Gothic practice in its flat, gilt haloes and elaborately tooled gold cloth of honour. Yet, the composition is based on a terracotta relief by Luca della Robbia. The parapet in front of the exquisitely refined figures, together with the shallow rectangular recess behind the gilt cloth, establishes the subtle and endlessly varied terms of Lippi's continuous dialogue between sculpture and painting on the one hand and between the illusionism of Renaissance painting and the ornamental qualities of Late Gothic painting on the other.