Sculpting with Color in Renaissance Florence
The glazed terracotta technique invented by Luca della Robbia, along with his exceptional skill as a sculptor, placed him firmly in the first rank of Renaissance artists in the fifteenth century. This quintessentially Florentine art—taking the form of dazzling multicolored ornaments for major buildings of the city, delicately modeled and ingeniously constructed freestanding statues, serene blue-and-white devotional reliefs for domestic use, charming portraits of children, and commanding busts of rulers, along with decorative and liturgical objects—flowed in abundance from the Della Robbia workshops for a hundred years. Passed down to family members and developed further by each generation, the closely held technique achieved new heights of refinement and durability in modeling and color, praised for combining elements of painting and sculpture into a new and all but eternal medium. Important patrons from the Medici family to the French court enhanced the reputation of the Della Robbia, which in turn inspired imitation by rival artists.
In the nineteenth century, revived interest in the Renaissance in general and the Della Robbia in particular brought their works into major collections beyond Italy, particularly in England and the United States, and sparked the rediscovery of the technique by Italian ceramic workshops. In recent years, renewed attention from art historians, backed by sophisticated technical studies, has reintegrated the Della Robbia into the mainstream of Renaissance art history and illuminated their originality and accomplishments. This beautifully illustrated companion to the first major Della Robbia exhibition in the United States brings readers into the workshops of these ingenious artists to experience one of the great inventions of the Renaissance and the enduring beauty it captured.
About the Author
Marietta Cambareri is Curator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture and Jetskalina H. Phillips Curator of Judaica, Art of Europe, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
"Like a great Della Robbia, function follows form. The catalogue's superb design and lavish colour reproductions illuminate the text, together delivering insights that promise to foster new scholarship on these artists for many years to come." - Burlington Magazine