I know it is sacrilegious, but I scurry through the first few rooms of Florence’s treasure house of art, the Uffizi Museum. I look neither to right nor to left, passing numerous crucifixions, virgins and child, annunciations, depositions and the like, paintings by mediaeval masters which, I must confess, rather leave me cold.
I don’t stop until I reach the room featuring Filippo Lippi and displaying one of my favourite paintings in the museum: Filippo’s Madonna and Child with two Angels. The earlier, medieval paintings I find stylised, though none the worse for that, and sometime in the future someone may awake my sensibilities for mediaeval art. But here in this painting are glorious blossomings of the Renaissance: Here are real people instead of stylised images. I particularly like the mischievous smile of the angel on the lower right. You feel that when he has paid homage to the child and his mother, he will be off to do something rather naughty, like knocking on the doors of heaven’s many mansions and running away.
On the other hand, Mary’s serenity is sublime.
Filippo was a 15th century monk with a scandalous private life, out all night getting into more mischief than that young angel ever thought of, often involving nuns. His priapic desires were insatiable. Once, his patron, Cosimo de Medici, tried to keep him confined in his palace by locking Filippo’s bedroom door. Filippo escaped by the Boys Own Paper expedient of knotting his bed sheets together, before setting out on his far-from-Boys-Own-Paper nocturnal adventures.
Despite his rickety private life, however, Filippo was a sublime painter, bringing a vibrant realism to his pictures. And, by the way, he taught Botticelli.
We have named the Watermill’s two-bedroomed, self-contained apartment suites after him and his son Filippino Lippi. There are duvets rather than bed sheets.
Filippino, was also a talented artist, responsible for some wonderful frescoes depicting the life of St Peter in the Brancacci Chapel in the church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence:
The suite has an elegant sitting room and two bedrooms: a larger double one and a smaller single. (Filippo and Filippino!). There are views over the Riverside gardens and the River Rosaro. It is ideal for a couple, or two friends sharing.
We’d be delighted to welcome you here for one of our caring and inspiring creative holiday weeks – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language. The Lippi is already taken for many of our courses, but is currently available on the painting courses of Keiko Tanabe, Carl March, Paul Talbot-Greaves and Varvara Neiman. Come and enjoy the history as well as the inspiring teaching at the Watermill and, of course, warm hospitality, stunning scenery, delicious food and wine, and the convivial company of like-minded people.
You can find out more about all our fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring creative courses, creative writing, knitting and Italian language as well as painting, by clicking here. We would love you to join us.