LIPPI, Filippino
(b. ca. 1457, Prato, d. 1504, Firenze)

Adoration of the Magi

Oil on wood, 258 x 243 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

This painting was commissioned to replace Leonardo's picture of the same subject, after Leonardo had moved from Florence to Milan. Given the built-in element of competition, it is legitimate to ask whether Filippino was up to the task. Because Leonardo's Adoration of the Magi was some fifteen years earlier and never completed, a comparison is not altogether fair. Lippi's highly effective picture is full of incidents, although the end result could be considered excessive in detail.

One of the interesting things about this composition, jammed with figures, is identifying the characters. Critics claim to have identified Pier Francesco Medici the Elder, as well as his two sons Lorenzo il Popolano and Giovanni il Popolano (father of the famous condottiere Giovanni dalle Bande Nere), and Piero il Pugliese.

The work shows traces of influence of North European painting, which had come to Florence with the Portinari Triptych by Hugo van der Goes, while the figures grouped excitedly around the central nucleus are already sixteenth century and are derived directly from Leonardo da Vinci.

Filippino draws inspiration here from two other well-known Adorations of an earlier date, those of Sandro Botticelli and Leonardo, both by portraying the crowds that closes in around the divine group, and by including the young man with a characteristic tuft of hair on the right.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.