In the middle of the 15th century, Filippo Lippi a notorious Carmelite friar, painted the birth of Christ not in a manger but in the wooded wilderness that surrounded his monastery. There are no signs of the usual visitors you would expect to see gathering in the stable, even Joseph is missing, and a darkness and symbolism points to Christ’s death.
The story of the symbolism behind what Lippi painted in this commission for Comismo de’ Medici is only the beginning of what the BBC programme ‘The Private Life of a Christmas Masterpiece’ has to tell. It also tells the story of the picture and of Lippi himself. Although it isn’t on BBC iplayer it is being shown again on HD and BBC 2 on Christmas Day at 17:10, so if you missed it first time around why not catch it next time and sprinkle some culture, along with some scandal into your Christmas Day, the soaps have nothing on reall life!