"The Visitation" Luca della Robbia (Italian, Florence, 1399 or 1400–1482) Italian, Renaissance, about 1445 Glazed terracotta Church of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas, Pistoia (Scala/Art Resource, NY/Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
"Prudence" (before conservation) Andrea della Robbia (Italian (Florentine), 1435–1525) Ca. 1475 Glazed terracotta Lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1921 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
"Virgin and child with lilies" Luca della Robbia (Italian, Florence, 1399 or 1400–1482) about 1460–70 Glazed terracotta Gift of Quincy Adams Shaw through Quincy Adams Shaw, Jr., and Mrs. Marian Shaw Haughton (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
"Bust of a Young Boy" Andrea della Robbia (Italian (Florentine), 1435–1525) Italian, Renaissance, about 1475 Glazed terracotta Museo Nazionale del Bargello‑Firenze (Antonio Quattrone/Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo/Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
"Resurrection of Christ" (before conservation) Ca. 1520-1524 Giovanni della Robbia (Italian, Florentine, 1469–1529/30) Italian, Renaissance Glazed terracotta Brooklyn Museum, Gift of A. Augustus Healy 99.5 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
"Nativity with Gloria in Excelsis" Luca della Robbia (Italian, Florence, 1399 or 1400–1482) about 1470 Glazed terracotta Gift of Quincy Adams Shaw through Quincy Adams Shaw, Jr., and Mrs. Marian Shaw Haughton (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
"Madonna and Child" (in situ) Luca della Robbia (Italian, Florence, 1399 or 1400–1482) Italian, Renaissance, about 1450‑60 Glazed terracotta Oratory of San Tommaso Aquino, Florence (Emanuele Vergari Fotografo, Firenze/Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
"Virgin and Child" Luca della Robbia (Italian, Florence, 1399 or 1400–1482) about 1445-55 Glazed terracotta Gift of Quincy Adams Shaw through Quincy Adams Shaw, Jr., and Mrs. Marian Shaw Haughton (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
"Judith" Giovanni della Robbia Italian, Florentine, 1469-1529 Glazed terracotta Gift of Mrs. Albert J. Beveridge in memory of Delia Spencer Field (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

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This Renaissance Sculptor Is Getting His First U.S. Show

Luca della Robbia is finally getting a showcase in the States

smithsonian.com

In the 15th century, Luca della Robbia was a pioneering sculptor who produced some of the most vibrant and colorful sculptures known to this day. A talented artist who developed new ways of combining colored glaze with delicate terracotta sculptures, della Robbia has long been considered one of the pioneering artists of the Renaissance period. However, unlike many of his peers, della Robbia’s work has never received its own dedicated show in the United States – until now.

This August, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston will present 50 works by della Robbia and his family in a new exhibition called “Della Robbia: Sculpting with Color in Renaissance Florence”. While many of these works have been on display in other museums around the country, this will be the first time that so many of della Robbia’s artworks will be displayed together, Sarah Cascone reports for artnet News.

“Praised in its own day as ‘almost eternal,’ and seen as a new invention not known in antiquity, Luca della Robbia’s technique of glazed terracotta displays the creative ingenuity and graceful beauty that characterized the Renaissance and that continues to astonish and beguile us today,” curator Marietta Cambareri, who organized the show, said in a statement.

Even after 500 years, many of della Robbia’s sculptures are characterized by their vivid colors, thanks to his revolutionary glazing techniques. In one sculpture, a shining white image of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus pops out against a cobalt-blue background. In another, titled “Judith,” a woman stands triumphant in a flowing blue gown, holding a gleaming golden sword in one hand and the severed head of a man in the other.

While several of della Robbia's contemporaries also worked with terracotta, including Brunelleschi and Donatello, most artworks made with the material were fragile and easily broken, Roderick Conway Morris wrote for the New York Times. However, by experimenting with glazing techniques drawn from manufacturing ceramics used in the home, della Robbia figured out a way to make his sculptures durable enough to display outdoors and vibrant enough to shine even in the darkest of churches.

The new exhibition will encompass work of all sorts made by della Robbia and his descendants, to whom della Robbia entrusted with his secrets. From mass-produced works to special, custom-made sculptures, the show will highlight some of the best examples of his technique from collections around the world.

“Della Robbia: Sculpting with Color in Renaissance Florence” will be on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston from August 9 to December 4. Afterward, it will travel to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. for another exhibition from February 5 to June 4, 2017.

About Danny Lewis

Danny Lewis is a multimedia journalist working in print, radio, and illustration. He focuses on stories with a health/science bent and has reported some of his favorite pieces from the prow of a canoe. Danny is based in Brooklyn, NY.

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