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

View of the Vaulting in the Strozzi Chapel

Strozzi Chapel, Santa Maria Novella, Florence

The vaulting in the Strozzi Chapel contains depictions of Adam and the patriarchs Abraham, Jacob, and Noah. In the lunettes below are the depictions of the martyrdoms of St John (above) and St Philip (below).

The patriarchs do not appear in their chronological, biblical sequence. Instead they have been placed so as to relate to the subject matter of the wall paintings below. Abraham and his sacrificial altar appear above the scene in which Philip refuses to make a pagan sacrifice. Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac also prefigures Christ's death on the cross, owing to which Philip himself was crucified. Noah, the earliest of the patriarchs, appears above the left wall. In general, he symbolizes salvation from death, and this is important in both of the scenes from the legend of John the Evangelist. Adam, who is normally not included in cycles of patriarchs, also has a direct connection to the subject matter of the window wall directly beneath him. His is the most prominent position, as he is visible even from outside the chapel and appears directly above the altar and the donor's tomb. He is clothed in the skin of a cow and holds a staff - both allusions to his life of struggle and toil after his banishment from paradise. Although it is he who first introduced Original Sin to the world, he was the first man whom the resurrected Christ chose to save as he passed through purgatory.

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