Filippo di Memmo Filippuccio detto Lippo Memmi - inv. 3347

Lippo Memmi (active 1317- c.1350)

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary
tempera on panel  
50,5 x 22 cm
1970 donation G. Devoto Falck
Inv. 3347

14th Century Room
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The condition of the painting is good, despite evident cracking.
Elizabeth of Hungary was a princess born in 1207 who withdrew to a Franciscan convent when she was widowed at the age of twenty. Her face is framed by a veil with chin fastener. The folds of drapery falling and the gesture of the hand gathering the fold containing flowers are very elegant. Legend has it that the saint was surprised by her husband while she was taking bread hidden in the folds of her garment to the poor. When asked what she was hiding, she replied ‘roses for weaving a crown’, and the bread was miraculously transformed into red and white roses.

The passages of light marking the drapery and facial features are of great finesse: the shadow enveloping the right side of the figure precisely indicates where the light comes from. The painting was part of the upper order of a huge polyptych, made up of at least fourteen panels, today dispersed in various collections.

Datable to the 1330s, the painting was for the Franciscan church of Colle Val d’Elsa, in the Sienese hills. The artist, Lippo Memmi, was a brother-in-law of Simone Martini, with whom he collaborated on a number of occasions. His style and the arrangement of the polyptych reveal the influence of his more renowned relation.