Filippino Lippi (Italian, Prato 1457 - 1504 Florence)
Lamentation of Christ at the Tomb, ca. 1500
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, and white heightening over black chalk
Inscribed by a later hand in dark brown ink at the lower left: Filippo Lippi
7 1/8 x 10 7/16 in. (18 x 26.3 cm)
R. T. Miller, Jr. Fund, 1954
Filippino Lippi, best known as a painter of altarpieces and frescoes in quattrocento Florence, was also an exceptional draftsman. This drawing is one of the few known Renaissance drawings pricked for transfer for which the corresponding panel painting also survives: Lippi's Lamentation is now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
The drawing depicts the dead Christ supported on the edge of his tomb by Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathaea with angels to either side holding Christ's arms and the instruments of his passion. The sheet has been universally attributed to Filippino Lippi; this attribution is confirmed not only stylistically, but also by the inscription in the lower left--"Filippo Lippi"--and the nearly exact correspondence between the drawing and the small panel painting by Lippi of the Lamentation, now in the National Gallery of Art.1
The Oberlin drawing was made as a preparatory sketch (or cartoon) for the panel, and it is pricked for transfer.2 It is the only surviving pricked drawing by Filippino Lippi, and one of the few pricked Renaissance drawings for which the corresponding panel painting survives.3 The prick points do not exactly follow the outlines of the drawing, as can be seen for example at the back of Christ's head and in the drapery folds of the angel at the left. The discrepancies reveal the speed and freedom with which the artist worked when transferring the design to his panel and suggest that the drawing was pricked by Lippi himself, not by an assistant. Infrared reflectography reveals a sketchy underdrawing on the Washington panel, but cannot confirm the presence of pounce marks from the transfer process; however, faint dots are said to be visible in some places on the panel.4 It is probable that the Washington painting once formed part of the predella of a larger altarpiece, now lost.
Spencer claimed that the Oberlin sheet was originally drawn about 1485-86, and then subsequently reused for the Washington painting in the middle 1490s.5 But Shoemaker has invalidated this early dating, noting that it was based on comparison with a drawing that is not an autograph work, but rather a copy after the head of the Virgin in Filippino's Vision of St. Bernard.6 It is more likely that both the drawing and the painting were made around 1500, or even slightly later. A late date is indicated by both the Leonardesque execution and oil medium of the painting, as well as the strong chiaroscuro of the drawing, characteristic qualities in Lippi's works of the 1490s and after.7
The features of Jesus' head in the present work--specifically, the long, curly hair parted in the middle and falling to his shoulders, the large nose, and the short beard ending in two parts below his chin--reveal the influence of a fourteenth-century apocryphal description of Christ, believed to be an eyewitness account written by Lentulus, the Roman Governor of Palestine.8 In Florence, this iconography gained in popularity in the second half of the fifteenth century.
Filippino Lippi was born in Prato in 1457, the son of the painter Fra Filippo Lippi (ca. 1406-1469). He was trained initially by his father, and following his father's death he entered the shop of Botticelli (Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi, 1444/45-1510) as an apprentice. In 1486, he completed his first major altarpiece, Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints, for the Palazzo della Signoria. In 1488 Filippino moved to Rome to work on a fresco cycle in the Carafa chapel in S. Maria sopra Minerva; he finished this cycle in 1493 and returned to Florence in 1494. Between 1497 and 1500, he painted the Strozzi family chapel in S. Maria Novella in Florence. In addition, Filippino painted numerous altarpieces and devotional works in Florence. He died in Florence in 1504.
Goldner, George R., Carmen C. Bambach, et al. The Drawings of Filippino Lippi and his Circle. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1997-98.
Nelson, J. and P. Zambrano. Filippino Lippi Catalogo Completo. Milan, forthcoming.
Collection Earl of Pembroke, Wilton House, Salisbury (before 1900)
His sale, London (Sotheby's), 5-10 July 1917, lot 324
Collection Henry Oppenheimer, London
His sale, London (Christie's), 10 July 1936, lot 114 (£462, to Agnew)
Collection Carl Robert Rudolf, London
Collection Robert Langton Douglas (1864-1951), London and New York
With P. & D. Colnaghi, London (1953)
Purchased from Mrs. R. Langton Douglas, in 1954
London, Burlington Fine Arts Club, 1917, cat. no. 82.
London, Colnaghi's, 1953. Exhibition of Old Master Drawings. Cat. no. 15, ill.
Ann Arbor, The University of Michigan Museum of Art, 1956. Drawings and Watercolors from the Oberlin Collection. 11 March - 1 April. No cat.
New York, M. Knoedler's & Company, Inc., 1959. Great Master Drawings of Seven Centuries. Benefit for Columbia University. 31 October - 7 November. Cat. no. 10.
The Detroit Institute of Arts, 1960. Master Drawings of the Italian Renaissance. 6 April - 9 May. Cat. no. 4, p. 13.
Kenwood, London County Council, 1962. An American University Collection: Works of Art from the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, Ohio. 3 May - 30 October. Cat. no. 43.
Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Vassar College Art Gallery, 1968. The Italian Renaissance: Prints, Drawings, Manuscripts and Books. 2 May - 9 June. Cat. no. 15.
Miami, Center for the Fine Arts, 1984. In Quest of Excellence: Civic Pride, Patronage, Connoisseurship. 14 January - 22 April. Cat. pp. 174-75, fig. 28.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1997-98. The Drawings of Filippino Lippi and his Circle. 27 October - 11 January. Cat. no. 110.
Strong, S. Arthur. Reproduction in Facsimile of Drawings of the Old Masters in the Collection of the Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery at Wilton House. London, 1900, Part II, no. 18.
"In the Auction Room: The Oppenheimer Collections, The Drawings." Burlington Magazine 30 (1917), p. 244, fig. 3.
Thieme, Ulrich, and Felix Becker, eds. Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antieke bis zur Gegenwart. Vol. 32. Leipzig, 1929, p. 270.
Scharf, Alfred. Filippino Lippi. Vienna, 1935, cat. no. 184, pl. 44.
Berenson, Bernard. The Drawings of the Florentine Painters. Vol. 2. Chicago, 1938, no. 1349A (formerly 1367) (as owned by Mr. C. R. Rudolf).
Neilson, Katharine. Filippino Lippi. Cambridge, Mass., 1938, p. 121 n. 57.
Scharf, Alfred. Filippino Lippi. Vienna, 1950, pl. 61 (as collection Oppenheimer).
Exhibition of Old Master Drawings. Exh. cat., Colnaghi's, London, 1953, cat. no. 15, reproduced frontispiece.
Davis, F. "Drawings by the Great and the Near Great." Illustrated London News (13 June 1953), p. 992.
Stechow, Wolfgang. "Joseph of Arimathaea or Nicodemus?" Studien zur toskanischen Kunst, Festschriften für Ludwig Heydenreich. Munich, 1964, pp. 289-302, exp. pp. 296-97.
Spencer, John R. "The Lament at the Tomb by Filippino Lippi." Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin 24, no. 1 (1966), pp. 23-34.
Shoemaker, Innis Howe. "Filippino Lilppi as a Draftsman." Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1975, pp. 318-23, fig. 90
Stechow, Wolfgang. Catalogue of the Drawings and Watercolors in the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, Ohio. Oberlin, 1976, p. 48, fig. 228.
Bongiorno, Laurine. "The Fruits of Idealism." Apollo 103, no. 168 (February 1976), p. 92, ill. p. 91.
van der Marck, Jan. In Quest of Excellence: Civic Pride, Patronage, Connoisseurship. Exh. cat., Center for the Fine Arts, Miami, 1984, pp. 174-75, fig. 28.
Cappell, Carmen Bambach. "The Tradition of Pouncing Drawings in the Italian Renaissance Workshop: Innovation and Derivation." Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1988, pp. 202-3, cat. no. 152.
Bambach, Carmen C. In The Drawings of Filippino Lippi and his Circle. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1997, pp. 334-35, 337, cat. no. 110 (with additional literature).
Nelson, J. and P. Zambrano. Filippino Lippi Catalogo Completo. Milan, forthcoming.
The drawing is an elaborately worked sheet combining pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, and white gouache heightening, over traces of stylus and black chalk on laid buff paper. The lines of the drawing are pricked for transfer.
The sheet is worn and the white heightening has been abraded; furthermore, the pigment layer has become nearly transparent in the intermediate highlights. The Oberlin cartoon has been cut down along the left, right, and lower borders. It has been glued down onto a paper mount with a gold border design.
1. Oil or mixed media on panel, 17.5 x 33.7 cm, inv. 1165; Fern Rusk Shapley, Catalogue of the Italian Paintings in the National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C., 1970), pp. 260-61.
2. On the technique of the drawing, I have benefited from the generous permission of Carmen Bambach and George Goldner to read the manuscript of Bambach's entry on the Oberlin drawing for the forthcoming exhibition catalogue, The Drawings of Filippino Lippi and his Circle (now exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1997-98), pp. 335, 337.
3. On the pounce method, see Carmen Bambach Cappell, "Raphael and the Tradition of Pouncing Drawings in the Italian Renaissance Workshop: Innovation and Derivation" (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1988).
4. See Carmen Bambach, in The Drawings of Filippino Lippi and his Circle (exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1997-98), pp. 335-36, fig. 56.
5. John R. Spencer, "The Lament at the Tomb by Filippino Lippi," Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin 24, no. 1 (1966), pp. 23-24.
6. Innis H. Shoemaker, "Filippino Lippi as a Draughtsman" (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1975), pp. 320-21.
7. The Leonardesque elements of the painting are emphasized by Carmen Bambach, in The Drawings of Filippino Lippi and his Circle (exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1997-98), p. 337.
8. See E. Dobschutz, "Zum Lentulus-Briefe," Zeitschrift für Wissenschaftliche Theologie 42 (1899), pp. 457-68; and original Latin text in J. A. Fabricius, Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti (Hamburg, 1703), vol. 1, pp. 301-2. On the influence of the apocryphal description of Christ on Florentine iconography, see Andrew Butterfield, The Sculptures of Andrea del Verrocchio (New Haven and London, 1997), ch. 3.