Born into a prominent Florentine family, Filippo Baldinucci received a Jesuit education and hoped to pursue a religious career. Reluctantly, he abandoned his studies to work for the Medicis, becoming Leopoldo de' Medici's bookkeeper in 1664. He later became a consultant for Leopoldo's drawings collection and gallery of artists' self-portraits. After Leopoldo's death, he served under Cosimo III de' Medici. Though an amateur, Baldinucci was a skilled draftsman and clay modeler. He primarily drew copies of religious images and chalk portraits of his acquaintances. Best known as a writer, Baldinucci's most important publication was the fundamental Notizie de' professori del disegno da Cimabue in qua (Notes on teachers of drawing from Cimabue until now). Baldinucci's well-informed biographies of Italian and northern European artists comprise the first universal history of European figurative arts, expanding and increasing the accuracy of Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists. Baldinucci published three volumes in his lifetime, and three appeared posthumously.
He also wrote a biography of Gian Lorenzo Bernini commissioned by Queen Christina of Sweden, the first history of engraving and etching, and the first dictionary of artistic terms.