January 1, 2021

Vision of St. Augustine by Filippo Lippi.

circa 1460

“Vision of St. Augustine'' by Filippo Lippi circa 1460. Aurelius Augustinus was a bishop of Hippo Regiusin Northern Africa (Nowadays Algeria) and one of the Fathers of the Church. Originally part of an altar, this work takes its subject from a description of the life of St. Augustine. The legend says that the monk Augustine, pondering on the dogma of the Holy Trinity, went to the seaside. Augustine was trying to comprehend the dogma of the divine Trinity as he walked along the seashore when he saw a small boy removing water from the sea with a spoon and pouring it into a hole. When Augustine asked him the purpose of what he was doing, the child answered that any attempt by the human mind to comprehend the mystery of the nature of God was as vain and hopeless as seeking to remove all the water from the sea with a spoon. Having said this, he disappeared. Fra Filippo Lippi was possibly the first artist to take up this rare subject. He depicts the mystical event as a real scene taking place amongst the hills of his native Tuscany. Instead of the sea he showed a stream, and in the distance to the left we see the bend of a river and the towers of a small town. In the upper right corner is a three-faced sun, a symbol of the Trinity. The high horizon and the small hills and trees, as compared with the figures, testify to the artist’s mastering of the principles of linear perspective.