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Madonna and Child between Saint Stephen and Saint John the Baptist.Datini and some of his customers are shown, somewhat smaller, towards the bottom of the painting
Filippo Lippi, Madonna with Child between Saints Stephen and John the Baptist (Madonna del Ceppo), 1452-1453

Lippi in Prato

Lovers of Renaissance art cannot miss to visit Prato!
In fact, in the 14th century, the city played a decisive role in the history of art: around the Cathedral took shape memorable enterprises, among the most fascinating episodes of the early Renaissance. Prato is also the city that owns the richest and most important nucleus of works by fra’ Filippo Lippi, one of the greatest Renaissance masters. The rich collection of paintings on wood and the wonderful frescoes of the cathedral, recently restored, allow a fascinating journey in the art of this controversial artist. Precious are also the testimonies of his son Filippino, famous painter like him, born in Prato from the scandalous relationship that the friar had with the nun Lucrezia Buti.
Inside, the Cathedral of Santo Stefano preserves the important pictorial cycle "Stories of St. Stephen and St. John the Baptist" frescoed by Lippi between 1452 and 1465.
On the left wall of the main chapel there is the story of St. Stephen, patron of Prato. Beautiful is the scene in which Stefano leaves the Bishop Giuliano to begin preaching and that with the Funeral rites after the discovery of the body of Stefano, where on the right the figure of Pope Pius II is supported by two friars: the elder, to the right, is probably a self-portrait of Lippi.
On the opposite wall, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, on the homogeneous rock background, is the group with St. Giovannino who leaves the parents, while the lower scene presents the Banquet of Herod, where the dance of Salome is performed, the decapitation of the Baptist and a luminous Salome (to whom Buti made a model) who shows John's head to Herodias mother.
Filippo remained in Prato until 1467, leaving beautiful inventions in other works, such as the three splendid shovels of the Collection of Palazzo Pretorio Museum: the Madonna del Ceppo, made for Palazzo Datini, the Madonna della Cintola painted for the St. Margherita Monastery, where he met Lucrezia Buti, the Nativity for the Convent of St. Domenico. There are two other works by Filippo in the city: the Transition of St. Jerome, today in the Cathedral Museum, and the Presentation to the Temple in the Church of Santo Spirito.
By Filippino in Palazzo Pretorio is kept the Crucifix, bought by the Municipality of Prato in New York in 2010, the Mercatale Tabernacle and the heartbreaking Madonna with the Child, painted for the Hall of the Municipality.

Information

  • Involved Municipalities: Prato