PARIS.- Situated in Tuscany, 10 miles north of Florence, the city of Prato went through a considerable economic growth from the middle of the 14th to the beginning of the 15th century, before it fell under the domination of its rival Florence when it was conquered by the Medici troops in 1512.
This prosperity, which was mainly based on the commerce of textile and the development of business, gave birth to important civic and church commissions, and to fruitful political and artistic exchanges with Florence. Many artists (architects, sculptors, painters, etc.) then settled in Prato and in its surroundings, notably to work on the Duomo.
The Lippis, Filippo (Florence, ca. 1406 Spoleto, 1469) and his son Filippino (Prato, ca. 1457 Florence, 1504), were among the most respected artists in 15th-century Prato. Despite his functions as chaplain to the convent of Santa Margherita in Prato, Filippo led a debauched life and he only escaped Florentine justice thanks to the protection of his patron Cosimo de Medici. Filippino was born of Filippos scandalous union with a nun, Lucrezia Buti; both were released from their vows through the intervention of Cosimo de Medici.
The exhibition brings together some fifty paintings and sculptures created between the 14th and the 16th century, which have never been shown in France (some of them never went out of Italy). Those works come from the Prato City Museum, housed in the Palazzo Pretorio, now closed for refurbishment, as well as from other institutions of the same region. It will provide a unique opportunity to discover the rich artistic heritage of a city which incontestably was an important artistic centre during that period, thanks notably to the stylistic innovations brought about by Filippo, and later by Filippino Lippi during their respective sojourns in Prato. It will thus allow to appreciate the Lippis influence in the creation of an innovating style, la Maniera, elaborated with their closest collaborators (mainly Fra Diamante and Domenico di Zanobi) and then relayed by their followers (Tommaso di Piero, aka il Trombetto, Luca Signorelli, Zanobi Poggini, Raffaellino del Garbo, among others). The prominent role of sculptors will also be underlined in a special section devoted to altars meant for private devotion (Donatello, Da Maiaono, della Robbia).
The curators of the exhibition are Maria Pia Mannini, director of the Prato City Museum, and Cristina Gnoni Mavarelli, art historian with the Soprintendenza of historical and artistic heritage of the Florence, Prato and Pistoia regions.