The Early Renaissance



Luca della Robbia




della Robbia

Italian family of sculptors and potters.
They were active in Florence from the early 15th century and elsewhere in Italy and France well into the 16th. Family members were traditionally employed in the textile industry, and their name derives from rubia tinctorum, a red dye. Luca della Robbia founded the family sculpture workshop in Florence and was regarded by contemporaries as a leading artistic innovator, comparable to Donatello and Masaccio. The influence of antique art and his characteristic liveliness and charm are evident in such works as the marble singing-gallery for Florence Cathedral. He is credited with the invention of the tin-glazed terracotta sculpture for which the family became well known. His nephew Andrea della Robbia, who inherited the workshop, tended to use more complex compositions and polychrome glazing rather than the simple blue-and-white schemes favoured by his uncle. Several of Andrea’s sons worked in the shop. Marco della Robbia (b 6 April 1468; d 1529–34), perhaps the least talented of the sons, became a Dominican monk in 1496 but continued to execute sculpture, e.g. the lunette of the Annunciation (1510–15; Lucca, S Frediano). Andrea’s sons Giovanni della Robbia and Luca della Robbia the younger (b 25 Aug 1475; d before 6 Nov 1548) inherited the workshop and were responsible for adapting its production to 16th-century taste, influenced by contemporary Florentine painting. Another son, Francesco della Robbia (b 23 July 1477; d 1527–8) joined the Dominican convent of S Marco in Florence in 1495 but maintained links with the family shop. His work included plastic groups such as the Nativity of Santo Spirito in Siena (1504), and terracotta altarpieces, some executed in collaboration with his brother Marco. In the 1520s Marco and Francesco spent some time in the Marches, near Macerata, where they realized numerous glazed terracotta works. Girolamo della Robbia was the only son of Andrea to continue the reputation of the family’s terracotta works beyond the mid-16th century. He spent much of his life in France, working for the royal court, often in collaboration with Luca the younger, who joined him there in 1529. 

Luca della Robbia

(b ?Florence, July 1399–July 1400; d Florence, 20 Feb 1482).

He was the son of Simone di Marco della Robbia, a member of the Arte della Lana, the wool-workers’ guild. According to Vasari, Luca was apprenticed to the goldsmith Leonardo di Ser Giovanni and at about the age of 15 was taken to Rimini where he made bas-reliefs for Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta; however this information is partly contradicted by chronology. Gaurico also indicated that Luca was trained as a goldsmith, and it is possible that he worked on the Adriatic with a Florentine master such as Niccolo di Piero Lamberti, who went to Venice in 1416. It has also been suggested that he was apprenticed to Nanni di Banco, with whom he may have worked (c. 1420) on the decoration of the Porta della Mandorla in Florence Cathedral (Bellosi, 1981).




Angel with Candlestick

Glazed terracotta, height 84 cm
Sacresty, Duomo, Florence




Madonna of the Apple

Glazed terracotta, 70 x 52 cm
Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence

Ascension of Christ

Glazed terracotta, 260 cm at base
Duomo, Florence

Christ and Thomas

Terracotta, height: 44,5 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

Madonna with Child and Angels

Glazed terracotta
Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence

Madonna with Child and Angels

Glazed terracotta
Palazzo di Parte Guelfa, Florence

Madonna of Roses

Glazed terracotta, 80 x 64 cm
Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence

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