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The Four Seasons - Summer
(Lorenzo Lippi)

Description

Lorenzo Lippi probably painted his
magnificient allegory of Summer not
long after 1635, when his style was
still close to that of his master Matteo
Rosselli. So manifest is Rosselli’s stylistic
influence in the picture, and in fact the series
as a whole, that Roberto Contini has
suggested that an even earlier date might be
considered for Summer.75 Lippi, who had
opened his own studio around 1634,
continued to work in association with
Rosselli until at least 1640, and as Charles
McCorquodale has noted, Rosselli’s
influence continued to exert a powerful hold
over the early career of the precocious young
artist.76
Lippi had first begun to work with Rosselli
in 1622, assisting with the fresco decorations
for lunettes in the Sala della Stufa, in the
Palazzo Pitti.77 According to Baldinucci,
Lippi quickly emerged as one of Rosselli’s
‘star’ pupils, who so admired the young
artist’s skill as a draughtsman, that Rosselli
was heard to remark several times in front of
others that of the two of them, Lippi actually
drew better.78
75 ‘As for the Summer, you are probably right in recognising Lorenzo Lippi`s hand. It should be one of the very first works by Lippi, completely
in the shade of Matteo Rosselli, I would suggest 1625-26 or something. The whole series should have to do with Rosselli, at least as ‘impresario.’’
(R. Contini, e-mail communication, 18 January, 2005).
76 C. McCorquodale, Painting in Florence 1600-1700, exhib. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London, and Fitzwilliam Museum,
Cambridge, 1979, p. 76.
77 D’Afflito, op. cit., p. 363.
78 Baldinucci. op. cit., V, p. 262.
shields her eyes from the noonday sun.
Summer’s expressive, almost balletic,
serpentine pose closely resembles that of
Herodias in the Lippi’s Feast of Herod (1632)
where the Queen of Judea uses the same
gesture to express her horror at Salome’s
display of the Baptist’s head.81 The pose is
also similar to that of Hagar in the slightly
later Hagar and the Angel (1638), and
generally recalls Lippi’s practice during the
1630s of seating female subjects at the right
of his compositions in almost architectonic
poses which draw the eye leftwards, as in Lot
and His Daughters (1632-1634).82
The manner in which Lippi moulds
Summer’s pleated yellow robe to her body,
sensually revealing its form, recalls the ‘wet
drapery’ of the antique. Lippi painted the
same type of delicately pleated drapery in
several works dating from the 1630s
including Lot his Daughters, Ruth and Boaz
(1632-1634), a Saint Agatha in Paris (1634),
and two ovals, one of Saint Ursula (1638),
and another of the Muse Euterpe (c. 1640),
The face and figure type of Summer recall
those of the female attendants in Rosselli’s
Triumph of David, dated to just after 1621.79
However, there is also a marked resemblance
to Lippi’s first signed and dated work, his
Saint Catherine of Alexandria, in Corella
(1629), another picture of the same date, The
Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine (1628-
1629), and yet another later Saint Catherine of
Alexandria (1640-1643).80 This particular
female facial type – oval, round-jawed, set
with delicate features and framed by fair,
centre-parted waves of hair – appears
consistently throughout Lippi’s work with
the exception of the works painted after
1656 for Agnolo Galli, which feature either
portraits of Galli’s children, or facial types
based on theirs.
e e e
Lippi places Summer in the shade of an oak
tree, seated, and leaning to right, with
her ankles crossed. She cradles a sheaf of
wheat in her left arm and with her right arm
79 A later autograph copy (1630) is in the Musée de Louvre, Paris. See Catalogue sommaire illustré des peintures du musée du Louvre,
Italie, Espagne…, vol. II, Paris, 1981, p. 233.
80 D’Afflitto, ibid., no. 10, p.177, illus; no. 5, p. 173; and no. 49, p. 220, illus.
81 Ibid., no. 49, p. 187. illus.
82 Ibid., no. 23, p. 193, illus.; no. 24, p. 195, illus.; no. 24, p. 194, illus.
The long-limbed, pot-bellied, straighthaired
putti eating watermelon are
typical of Lippi’s child figures and are of a
type which is found throughout his career.
Similar figures occur in Lippi’s early works,
such as the playful cherubim in the Corella
altarpiece, but also in later works, such as
the putto leading the ass in The Flight into
Egypt (1642), and the two putti flanking the
Virgin in an Annunciation of the same date.
The putti in Summer most strongly
reminiscent however, of those playing in the
borders of the Palazzo Pitti tapestries (c.
1641), and exhibit similar poses and straight,
side-parted hair.85 It is also possible that a
preparatory drawing existed in a collection
in Gijón for the putto seated in shadow eating
a slice of watermelon. This study,
unfortunately destroyed in the Spanish Civil
War, was published by Alfonso E. Pérez-
Sánchez as Lippi and depicts a pot-bellied
putto with straight hair eating a piece of
bread (?) with both hands and is drawn in red
chalk on paper watermarked with the Medici
arms (Fig. 13).86
e e e
both in Florentine private collections.83 The
almost metallically crinkled folds of Summer’s
blue mantle, typical of Lippi’s attention
during this period to drapery texture and
detail, is similar to Saint’s Catherine’s red
mantle in the Corella picture.
Cantelli saw similarities between Lippi’s
work and the moonlit Magdalenes of
Francesco Furini (1603-1646), possibly in
her soft flesh, delicate features, and
expressive pose, which recall Furini’s Penitent
Magdalene (c.1634) in Vienna.84 However,
Lippi’s chastely draped figure is altogether
more solar and its bright, clear contours
anticipate the overwhelming influence of
Santi di Tito on Lippi’s work after 1640.
After this date, Lippi’s style became more
simplified, based on his desire to revive the
purist figurative language of sixteenthcentury
Tuscan masters like Andrea del Sarto
and Fra Bartolommeo, and far more
indebted to Santi than Ross
83 Ibid., no 38, p. 209, illus.; no. 81, p. 251, illus.
84 Ibid., no. 55, p. 226-227, illus.; no. 57, p. 229, illus.
85 Ibid., nos.72-76, pp. 246-247, illus.
86 A. E. Pérez-Sánchez, Catálogo de la Colección de Dibujos del Instituto Jovellanos de Gijón, Madrid, 1969, p. 82, no. 49, illus. (see
Two trees (beech and oak) linked by a
bower of wild strawberries, form a kind
of proscenium, which clearly, and somewhat
theatrically, divides Summer and the putti
from the genre scenes in the middle ground,
and the landscape beyond. The background is
traversed by a river, which may easily be
identified as the Arno with its weir, and a
small copse marks the middle ground and
separates the two genres scenes depicted
therein. To the right, are harvesters in a
wheatfield, to the left, youths bathe in the
river and sleep in the shade of the copse. The
scenes recalls works by Domenichino, which
Lippi may have seen in Rome, but are
possibly derived from Salviati’s tapestry
designs, specifically L’Eta d’Oro (Fig. 3) which
also shows figures bathing and relaxing upon
a riverbank and L’Estate, which depicts
harvesters and fishermen (Fig. 6).87 The level
of anecdotal detail and natural observation in
these scenes anticipate another similar scene
of shepherds resting with their flock
included in Jacob and Rachel at the Well (c.
1642) in the Palatina.88
The refined sense of light and topographical
accuracy in Lippi’s Summer landscape imply
that he must have painted this picture after
he had attained a significant level of skill as a
landscape painter. However, while it would
appear that Lippi had turned his attentions to
landscape from early on in his career (as can
be seen in the not altogether successful
background of the Corella Saint Catherine)
his development in this genre is not
straightforward. By around 1631, Lippi
solidified the indeterminate strata of fronds
in the Corella picture into the more
distinguishably textured landscape of his Noli
me Tangere in San Frediano in Cestello. A year
or two later, Lippi painted the Angelica and
Medoro where he included a similar ‘zig-zag’
view of a river to express recession. Lippi
also painted similar landscapes in the
pendant Hagar and the Angel and Sacrifice of
87 Mortari, op. cit., no. 70, p. 182, and no. 101, p. 188, illus.
88 D’Afflito, op. cit., p. 224, no. 53, illus.
the obvious attention given by the artist to
rendering each object in a highly detailed,
almost tenebrist style, it is unlikely that the
symbolism of these still lifes extend beyond
the seasons.
Lippi’s skills as a still-life painter are
eloquently expressed in the pale he painted
but a few years later for the Accademia della
Crusca.91 However, an alternative
attribution to another hand such as Giovanni
Martinelli, or even Cecco Bravo, as
tentatively suggested by Contini, should not
be dismissed.92
e e e
Issac (1638), in Jacob and Rachel at the Well
(1642), and most particularly in Erminia
amongst the Shepherds (c. 1642) in Pistoia.89 In
this last work, Lippi painted a sylvan river
landscape, which follows the same course as
in Summer, (albeit in reverse), and the entire
landscape is bathed in the same warm, yet
silvery light captured in Summer.90
e e e
The foreground still lifes of seasonal fruit
and vegetables – including watermelon,
pears, peaches, plums, cucumbers, figs, and
a ripe, split melon – illustrate the bounty of
the summer months and underscore the
symbolism of the allegorical figure. Despite
89 Ibid., nos. 39-40, pp. 210-211; no. 53, p. 224; and no. 136, pp. 314-315, illus.
90 Baldinucci implied that Lippi executed the picture in Pistoia after he returned from the journey he made to Innsbruck between
1642 and 1643. See F. Sricchia Santoro, ‘Lorenzo Lippi nello svolgimento della pittura fiorentina’, in Proporzioni, IV, 1963, p.
256, fig. 41. D’Afflito also dates the work to 1642 (D’Afflito, op. cit., no. 53, p. 224), while Cantelli believes this work to be
earlier than 1642.
91 The Accademia della Crusca was a literary society formed in reaction to the Accademia fiorentina in which members sought
separate the wheat of proper Italian from the chaff of bad Italian. Members organized cruscate, playful meetings with trivial
speeches and conversations, and often more serious debates and readings. Lippi, Baldinucci and Cardinal Grand Duke Leopoldo’
de Medici, were all members of the Accademia, Each Academician had his own pala, or wooden shovel which was painted with
a (bread-related) symbolic image, along with his nickname and his chosen motto. See D’Afflito, Ibid, pp.286-287, nos. 112-113,
illus.
92 “As for the still life sections, truly wonderful, it is challenging to think of a specialist by these years. The fruits and mushrooms seem as
beautiful as those by Filippo Napoletano, very naturalistic judging by the photographs. Anyway, Lippi and in different terms, Cecco Bravo could
be good in this field.” (R. Contini, e-mail communication, 18 January, 2005.)

Measurements
160 x 220 cm. (63 x 86.5 in.)
Type
Oil on canvas
Provenance

Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Lyman Delano, “Steen Valetje”, Barrytown, New
York;
Sold from the estate of Mrs. Lyman Delano, at “Steen Valetje”: O. Rundle
Gilbert, 31 May – 3 June, 1967, where acquired by;
Ira Spanierman, New York
Gianelli Collection, Stabio, Switzerland
With Bruno Scardeoni, Lugano, by 1981
Private collection, Switzerland

Where is It?
Acquired through The Matthiesen Gallery by a private client
Historical Period
Baroque - 1600-1720
Subject
Landscape
School
Italian - Tuscan
Catalogue
Price band
Sold or not available