27 February 2014

Hidden in the Details... a Family Portrait

Capella Filippo Strozzi ceiling,  painted by Filippino Lippi
The Capella di Filippo Strozzi is one of the major chapels in Santa Maria Novella in Florence.  It was painted between 1489-1502 by Filippino Lippi, the natural son of the eminent painter ( and reputed playboy) Fra' Filippo Lippi and the beautiful Lucrezia Buti.
Initially I stopped to admire this chapel not just for its famous frescoes, but also for the inventive ornamental borders, which  cleverly incorporate the three crescent moons on the Strozzi coat of arms.
Adam, ceiling detail of the F. Strozzi Chapel.
Looking more closely at the ceiling, as I am wont to do, I noticed the face of Adam bears a striking resemblance to  Fillipino Lippi's own self-portrait.   Adam is depicted holding a wriggling child and casting a vanquished gaze at the serpent, who has the head of a lovely woman with flowing hair, and is offering a golden fig.    Is this a statement about Fillipino's father, or on the weakness of men in general?  A family portrait hidden in the details?

photos by Lynne Rutter,  February 2014
click on images to view larger


  1. Good observations. I lean towards family portrait. The crescent moons in the border are nicely done as well.

  2. Made me smile, wearily: weak man, woman serpent. ;-)


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