Torture of St. John

Filippino Lippi

Filippino Lippi, Torture of St. John the Evangelist, 1502. Fresco, Strozzi Chapel, Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, Florence.

Filippino Lippi (1457−1504) was the illegitimate son of the accomplished Renaissance painter Filippo Lippi, who trained not only his son, but a young Botticelli as well. The younger Lippi would continue in Botticelli’s workshop after the death of his father. This fresco mural is an early Renaissance depiction of the martyrdom of the apostle John. The work is located on the lunette above the left wall of the Strozzi Chapel in Florence. Lippi’s composition takes us inside the open courtyard where the emperor Domitian, standing at the left with raised arm, orders the apostle to be boiled alive. As the soldiers stoke the fire, John remains unharmed until Domitian recognizes the miracle and ends the torture.