On this day in 1456, painter and Carmelite friar Fra Filippo Lippi abducted an Augustinian nun named Lucrezia Buti. She lived at Santa Margherita in Prato, where Lippi had been serving as chaplain as well as painting frescoes in the city’s cathedral. Buti remained with him and bore two children, the painter Filippino Lippi and a daughter, Alessandra. Buti’s sister and three other nuns from the convent also moved in with Lippi, who was denounced in May 1461 and stripped of his benefices four years later. The titillating tale of friar turned lover and father has fascinated writers and artists ever since, including Giorgio Vasari, who recounts that their love began when Lippi received permission to use the young, beautiful nun as a model for the Virgin Mary.

Eliot W. Rowlands and Marilyn Bradshaw. “Lippi.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web.

Antonio Gualdi, Fra Filippo Lippi and Lucrezia Buti, 1855, oil on canvas, private collection (photo: Fausto Franzosi) 

Gabriele Castagnola, Love or Duty, 1871

Madonna with Child and Two Angels, 1465, metalpoint, white lead, black chalk, brown wash on prepared orange-pink paper, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Madonna with Child and Two Angels, 1465, tempera on panel, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Madonna with the Child and Scenes from the Life of St Anne (detail), 1452, oil on panel, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

Head of a Woman, c. 1452, drawing, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Madonna and Child, ca. 1440, panel, Washington DC, National Gallery of Art

Annunciation (detail), 1437-9, panel, New York, The Frick Collection

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