Read Lippo, Painter of Florence of The Lives of the Painters‚ Sculptors & Architects‚ Volume 1, free online book, by Giorgio Vasari, on

Invention has been, and always will be considered the true mother of architecture, painting and poetry, as well as of all the superior arts and of all the marvels produced by man. By its aid artists develop their ideas, caprices and fancies, and are able to display more variety, for all those who work at these honourable professions always seek after a laudable diversity, and possess the power of delicate flattery and of tactful criticism. Lippo, then, painter of Florence, who was as varied and choice in his inventions as his works were really unfortunate and his life short, was born at Florence about the year of grace 1354; and although he took up the art of painting somewhat late, when he was already a man, yet he was so far assisted by natural inclination and by his fine talents that he soon distinguished himself brilliantly. He first painted in Florence and in S. Benedetto, a large and fine monastery outside the gate of the Pinti belonging to the Camaldoline order, now destroyed; he did a number a figures which were considered very beautiful, particularly the whole of a chapel, which affords an example of how close study quickly leads to great performances in anyone who honestly takes pains with the desire for fame. Being invited to Arezzo from Florence, he did for the chapel of the Magi in the church of S. Antonio a large scene in fresco in which they are adoring Christ; and in the Vescovado he did the chapel of St James and St Christopher for the family of the Ubertini. All these things were very fine, for the invention displayed in the composition of scenes and in the colouring. He was the first who began, as it were, to play with his figures, and to awaken the minds of those who came after him, a thing which had never been done before, only attempted. After he had done many things in Bologna and a meritorious picture at Pistoia, he returned to Florence, where he painted the chapel of the Beccuti in S. Maria Maggiore in the year 1383 with scenes from the life of St John the evangelist. Following on from this chapel, which is beside the principal one, on the left hand, six scenes from the life of this saint are represented along the wall, by the same hand. Their composition is excellent and they are well arranged, one scene in particular being very vivid, namely, that in which St John causes St Dionisius the Areopagite to put his vest on some dead men, who come to life again in the name of Jesus Christ, to the great wonderment of some who are present who can hardly believe their own eyes. The foreshortening of some of the dead figures shows great art and proves that Lippo was conscious of some of the difficulties of his profession and endeavoured to some extent to overcome them. It was Lippo also who painted the wings of the tabernacle of the church of S. Giovanni, where are Andrea’s angels and his St John, in relief, doing some stories of St John the Baptist in tempera, with great diligence. Being very fond of working in mosaic, he did some in that church over the door leading towards the Misericordia, between the windows, which was considered very beautiful and the best work in mosaic produced in that place with them. In the same church he further repaired some mosaics which had been damaged. Outside Florence, in S. Giovanni fra l’Arcora, without the gate leading to Faenza, he painted a number of figures in fresco beside Buffalmacco’s Crucifixion, which was considered very beautiful by all who saw them. In certain small hospitals near the Faenza gate and in S. Antonio inside that gate near the hospital, he did some poor men, in fresco, in some varied styles and attitudes, very beautifully executed, and in the cloister within he made, with beautiful and new invention, the vision of St Anthony of the deceits of the world, and next to that the desires and appetites of men, who are drawn hither and thither to divers things of this world, the whole of the work being executed with much consideration and judgment. Lippo also did mosaic work in many places of Italy, and in the Guelph quarter at Florence he made a figure with a glass head, while Pisa contains a number of his productions. Yet in spite of all this he must be considered a really unfortunate man, since at the present time the greater part of his works have disappeared, having been destroyed in the siege of Florence, and also because his career was terminated in a very tragic manner; for being a quarrelsome man and liking turmoil belter than quiet, he happened one morning to say some very insulting words to an opponent at the tribunal of the Mercanzia, and that evening as he was returning home, he was dogged by this man and stabbed in the breast with a knife, so that in a few days he perished miserably. His paintings were produced about 1410. There flourished at Bologna in Lippo’s time another painter whose name was also Lippo Dalmasi, who was a worthy man, and among other things he painted a Madonna in the year 1407, which may still be seen in S. Petronio at Bologna and which is held in great veneration. He also painted in fresco the tympanum above the door of S. Procolo, and in the church of S. Francesco in the tribune of the high altar, he made a large Christ, half length, and a St Peter and a St Paul, in a very graceful style. Under these works may be seen his name written in large letters. He also designed very fairly, as may be seen in our book, and he afterwards taught the art to M. Galante da Bologna, who afterwards designed much better than he, as may be seen in the same book in a portrait of a figure dressed in a short coat with wide open sleeves.