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The Holy Family with Saint John the Baptist and Saint Margaret

The Holy Family with Saint John the Baptist and Saint Margaret

c. 1495

Filippino Lippi

(Italian, 1457-1504)

Tempera and oil on wood

Framed: 184 x 186 x 9.5 cm (72 7/16 x 73 1/4 x 3 3/4 in.); Diameter: 153 cm (60 1/4 in.)

The Delia E. Holden Fund and a fund donated as a memorial to Mrs. Holden by her children: Guerden S. Holden, Delia Holden White, Roberta Holden Bole, Emery Holden Greenough, Gertrude Holden McGinley 1932.227

Description

Lippi’s sophisticated composition gracefully overlaps five figures in a round format. Oliviero Caraffa, Cardinal of Naples, commissioned this work, although Lippi probably painted it in Rome while working for the cardinal’s family, an example of the widespread taste across Italy for the art of Florence. Meticulously detailed still-life elements on the parapet, thick with symbolic meaning, reflect Lippi’s interest in northern European painting he would have seen in Florence. Likewise the classical architecture—referring to the pagan world cast off by Christianity—demonstrates his engagement with ancient art and architecture in Rome. Embellished with learned references and made with expensive materials, this painting would have actively inspired religious meditation and demonstrated the patrons’ courtly, civilized taste.

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