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

View of the Strozzi Chapel

Strozzi Chapel, Santa Maria Novella, Florence

The picture shows a view into the Strozzi Chapel off the right transept of the church of Santa Maria Novella. In the niche behind the altar table is the tomb of the donor, Filippo Strozzi, above it on the altar wall, an allegorical pictorial program referring to the donor. In the stained-glass window a Madonna and Child and Philip and John as the chapel's patron saints are represented, in the vaulting compartment Adam and the serpent are depicted.

The painting on the window wall is nothing at all like the sort of decor that was customary in family chapels. Lacking the bright colours of the stained-glass window and the pilasters on either side, these paintings recede into the background, and the contrast between their monochrome tones and the vivid stories on the side walls makes sit obvious that this pictorial program relates to the iconography of the tombs. Only selected motifs - the angels, for example, and some of the ornamental details - are painted in colour, and these stand out dramatically against the painted architecture. The painted columns on either side of the pointed-arched window stand atop high pedestals that flank the round arch above the tomb. The spandrels above that arch are filled with puzzling paintings in grisaille: in each one a winged youth stands with one foot on a skull and holds out another skull in his hand. Although it is impossible to know exactly what these mean, there is no doubt that they have to do with the presence of the donor's tomb directly below them.

The theological virtues Fides and Caritas adorn the pedestals beneath the projecting columns on either side of the window. On the left, two putti playing instruments accompany a seated female figure identified by an inscription as Parthenice.

There is a pair of women with masks of tragedy and comedy next to the right pilaster and above the inscription DEO MAX. They can be identified as Muses.

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