On Sunday I joined the students at the Prato Cathedral to see a fresco by Fillipo Lippi, a story of St. Stephen and St. John the Baptist. I guess the benefit of being a tourist is that sometimes you’re genuinely surprised by very obvious things, in particular the violence and death that are pictured on the walls of churches here

Fabien Vallos, an artist from Paris, hosted a discussion with the students about Lippi’s painting (and later cooked a banquet as a work & an extension of this experience). I assumed this was the first time I had seen one of his paintings, it was such a rewarding experience. There is so much expressiveness in his figures, I guess this was all part of the humanist tendencies developed during the renaissance. But the faces still feel very fresh! I later learnt that Lippi was Botticelli’s teacher and in general they were obsessed with curls

At the Cathedral I was endeared to the cardboard boxes that the ‘ricordo’, the momentos of the paintings were kept.

During a lecture here by the author Sarah Dunant, we were showed another Lippi painting, Madonna with the Child and two Angels, 1465. Actually I had seen this painting before, I grew up looking at it almost everyday–a cropped reproduction–on our living room wall. No one in our family ever mentioned who painted it, it was just a Madonna. The other image I remember we had up for years was a photograph of a luxurious stack of pancakes. But seeing this Madonna pop up in the lecture made me feel vertigo, like the past and present being telescoped together.