The Painter’s Daughter

Written by Carolyn Street LaFond
Review by Jackie Drohan

Alessandra Lippi is the beautiful daughter of the infamous painter Fra Lippo Lippi. Her story begins in 1467, as she tells of her first memory of her beloved Botticelli. She lives a comfortable life, with her father; her mother, Lucrezia, the defrocked nun; her brother, Filippino Lippi; and her father’s apprentice, Sandro Filipepi, aka Botticelli. Alessandra grows into a beautiful woman, worthy of every man’s attention and every artist’s paintbrush. She becomes intoxicated with the power of her own beauty, and this later leads to trouble. Even so, her one true love is Botticelli, who never took a wife, saying that his paintings were enough for him.

Ms. LaFond knows her historical facts, but she has unfortunately chosen to put every single one into this book. As a result, the book reads like a travelogue, with meticulous yet soulless descriptions of Florence in the 15th century. Her many characters are very difficult to tell apart, but if you are familiar with Italian Renaissance art, you can track down their portraits because she has kindly mentioned every painting in which these real-life people appear. One other problem with focusing on facts over story is that when one does encounter an error, it jumps out like a jack-in-the-box (she mentions Teresa of Avila in the 1490s, and Teresa was not even born until 1515). Still, the book is a fair introduction to the history of Florence.

Alexandra Ceely