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Italy, 1456. The Renaissance is in glorious bloom. A Carmelite monk, the great artist Fra Filippo Lippi acts as chaplain to the nuns of the Convent Santa Margherita. It is here that he encounters the greatest temptation of his life, beautiful Lucrezia Buti, who has been driven to holy orders more by poverty than piety. In Lucrezia's flawless face Lippi sees the inspiration for countless Madonnas and he brings the young woman to his studio to serve as his model. But as painter and muse are united in an exhilarating whirl of artistic discovery, a passionate love develops, one that threatens to destroy them both even as it fuels some of Lippi's greatest work.

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