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LIFE OF LIPPO
PAINTER OF FLORENCE

Vasari's Lives of the Artists



INVENTION has ever been held, and ever will be, the true mother of architecture, of painting, and of poetry nay, of all the finer arts also, and of all the marvellous works that are made by men, for the reason that it pleases the craftsmen much, and displays their fantasies and the caprices of fanciful brains that seek out variety in all things; and these discoveries ever exalt with marvellous praise all those who, employing themselves in honorable ways, give a form marvellous in beauty, under the covering and shadow of a veil, to the works that they make, now praising others dexterously, and now blaming them without being openly understood.]Lippo, then, a painter of Florence, who was as rare and as varied in invention as he was truly unfortunate in his works and in his life for it lasted but a little time was born in Florence, about the year of our salvation 1354; and although he applied himself to the art of painting very late, when already grown up, nevertheless, he was so well assisted by nature, which inclined him to this, and by his intelligence, which was very beautiful, that soon he produced therein marvellous fruits. Wherefore, beginning his labors in Florence, he made in S. Benedetto (a very large and beautiful monastery of the Order of Camaldoli, without the Porta a Pinti, and now in ruins) many figures that were held very beautiful, and in particular a chapel painted entirely with his own hand, which showed how soon diligent study can produce great works in one who labors honorably through desire of glory.

Being summoned from Florence to Arezzo, he made in fresco, for the Chapel of the Magi in the Church of S. Antonio, a large scene wherein the Magi are adoring Christ; and in the Vescovado he painted the Chapel of S. Jacopo e S. Cristofano for the family of the Ubertini. All these works were very beautiful, Lippo showing invention in the composition of the scenes and in the coloring, and above all because he was the first who began to sport, so to speak, with the figures, and to awaken the minds of those who came after him; a thing which had not even been suggested, much less put into use, before his time.

Having afterwards wrought many works in Bologna, and a panel in Pistoia which was passing good, he returned to Florence, where, in the year 1383, he painted the stories of S. John the Evangelist in the Chapel of the Beccuti, in S. Maria Maggiore. On the wall of the church beside this chapel, which is on the left hand of the principal chapel, there follow six stories of the same Saint by the same man's hand, very well composed and ingeniously ordered, wherein, among other things, there is very vividly depicted a S. John who is causing his own garment to be placed by S. Dionysius the Areopagite over some corpses, which are returning to life in the name of Jesus Christ, to the great marvel of some who, being present at this deed, can scarce believe their own eyes. In the figures of the dead, likewise, there is seen very great mastery in some foreshortenings, whereby it is clearly demonstrated that Lippo knew, and in part grappled with, certain difficulties of the art of .painting. It was Lippo, likewise, who painted the folding leaves in the Church of S. Giovanni namely, those of the shrine wherein are the angels and the S. John in relief by the hand of Andrea; and on them he wrought very diligently in distemper stories of S. John the Baptist. And because he also delighted in working in mosaic, in the said S. Giovanni, over the door that leads to the Misericordia, between the windows, he made a beginning, which was held very beautiful and the best work in mosaic which had been made in that place up to that time; and he also restored some works in that church, likewise in mosaic, which were spoilt.

Without Florence, too, in S. Giovanni fra l'Arcora without the Porta a Faenza, a church which was destroyed in the siege of the said city, he painted in fresco, beside a Passion of Christ wrought by Buffalmacco, many figures which were held very beautiful by all who saw them. In like manner, in certain little hospitals at the Porta a Faenza, and in S. Antonio within the said gate, near the hospital, he painted certain beggars in fresco, in diverse beautiful manners and attitudes; and within the cloisters, with beautiful and new invention, he painted a vision wherein he represented S. Anthony gazing on the snares of the world, and beside these the will and the desires of men, who are drawn by both the first and the second to the diverse things of this world; and all this he painted with much thought and judgment. Lippo also wrought works in mosaic in many parts of Italy, and in the Palace of the Guelph party in Florence he made a figure with the head glazed; and in Pisa, also, there are many of his works. But none the less it can be said that he was truly unfortunate, not only because the greater part of his labors are now thrown down, having gone to ruin in the havoc of the siege of Florence, but also because he ended the course of his life very unhappily; for Lippo being a litigious person and fonder of discord than of peace, and having one morning used very ugly words towards an adversary at the tribunal of the Mercanzia, he was waylaid by this man one evening when he was returning to his house, and stabbed in the breast with a knife so grievously, that a few days afterwards he died miserably. His pictures date about 1410.

About the same time as Lippo there was in Bologna another painter, Dalmasi, also called Lippo, who was an able man, and who painted, among other works, in the year 1407 (as it may be seen in S. Petronio in Bologna), a Madonna which is held in great veneration; and in fresco, the arch over the door of S. Procolo; and in the Church of S. Francesco, in the tribune of the high altar, he made a large Christ between S. Peter and S. Paul, with good grace and manner, and below this work there is seen his own name written in large letters. He drew passing well, as it may be seen in our book; and he taught the art to M. Galante da Bologna, who afterwards drew much better than he, as it may be seen in the said book, in a portrait from the life, a figure in a short coat with puffed sleeves.



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