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The disappearing corpse of Fra’ Filippo Lippi

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Fra’ Filippo Lippi died shortly after completing the frescoes in Spoleto’s Duomo, the rumour being that he was poisoned for seducing the daughter of a local noble family, his position as a monk having had no bearing on his sexual appetite. The Spoletans, not too perturbed by moral laxity, were delighted at having someone famous to put in their cathedral, being, as Vasari put it, “poorly provided with ornaments, above all with distinguished men”, and so refused to send the dead artist back to Lorenzo de’ Medici, his Florentine patron. Interred in a tomb designed by his son, Filippino Lippi (now in the right transept), the corpse disappeared during restoration two centuries later, the popular theory being that it was spirited away by descendants of the compromised girl – a sort of vendetta beyond the grave.

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