Ritratto di giovane (c.1485)

Lippi, Filippino (1457-1504)

Ritratto di giovane (Portrait of a Youth)
Oil and tempera on panel, 52.1 x 36.5 cm
National Gallery of ArtWashington

Filippino Lippi was the son of the painter Fra Filippo Lippi, who was undoubtedly the boy’s first master. After his father died in 1469, he became a pupil of Botticelli, who had a profound influence on his style. In fact, the Washington portrait comes so close to Botticelli‘s style that there has been considerable disagreement among scholars as to exactly which artist was responsible for it. Although it has been attributed more often to Botticelli than to Filippino, most recent authors are now agreed that it is by the younger painter. In 1483 or 1484, Filippino was assigned the task of finishing Masaccio‘s great frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel in Florence. This portrait bears a great resemblance to a young man portrayed there by Filippino. During the Gothic era and early Renaissance, donors of a painting would often be portrayed as tiny figures praying at the lower edge of a painting, as in Crivelli’s Madonna Enthroned with Donor. During the Renaissance a new interest in the individual, in human character and feeling, gave rise to the genre of portraiture as an artistic expression. Filippino‘s likeness of an unknown sitter shows a young man dressed in the typically plain costume of a well-to-do Florentine of the time. This vertical portrait painting shows the head, shoulders, and chest of a pale-skinned young man in front a cream-white, stone window that opens onto blue sky. The man’s body is angled slightly to our left and he looks directly at us with wide-set, pale blue eyes. He has smooth skin, a rounded nose, a wide jawline, and full, light pink lips. He wears a brimless crimson-red cap over brown hair that curls over his ears and down to the nape of his neck. His slate-blue jacket is lined with brown, perhaps fur, around the high neck and down the front. The jacket has puffy sleeves and vertical pleats over the chest. He is positioned in front of the stone opening, the edges of which run parallel to top and sides of the composition. Vivid blue sky fills the opening behind the young man. (NGA)