Fulmat Television and Film Limited

The Descent From The Cross by Rogier Van Der Weyden

The Adoration of the Christ Child
by Fra Filippo Lippi

BBC Two
Christmas Day 2010

Painted over five centuries ago, Filippo Lippi's nativity is like no other: the birth of Christ in a dark, wooded wilderness.  Its beauty inspired Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli.  But it also conceals a deeply personal story.  It was painted for a wealthy banker who feared that his money was dragging him straight to hell. The artist's life was equally surprising. The most celebrated painter of his day, Filippo Lippi was also a Carmelite friar.  But he was no stranger to the temptations of the flesh,shortly before painting his Adoration, he  caused uproar by seducing a twenty year-old nun – and getting her pregnant.

This programme looks at the turbulant history of this masterpiece which  with its combination of divine mystery and a very human beauty make it  seem to transcend time and creed.