One can celebrate the beauty and liveliness of the work of 15th-century sculptor Luca Della Robbia during a major exhibition. Treat yourself to details here!
Known for his top-secret, pioneering glazing techniques, Luca Della Robbia (1400-1482) — and his family of sculptors — produced a wealth of colorful artworks that even today remain some of the most familiar images of Renaissance Italy. From a number of loans around the United States and abroad, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, recently opened a monumental exhibition featuring around 50 objects. Likely derived from the traditional maiolica technique, the brilliant cerulean blues and opaque whites are as vibrant today on the works as they were during their production some 600 years ago.

Luca Della Robbia, “The Visitation,” circa 1445, glazed terracotta, (c) Church of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas 2016

Maiolica technique was developed during Renaissance Italy and uses tin as a prominent ingredient in the ceramic glaze. Colorants are applied to bisque wares as metallic oxides and absorb into the surface. Although the absorption makes reworking impossible, the technique preserves the brilliant color.
Among the outstanding works on view during “Della Robbia: Sculpting with Color in Renaissance Florence” are the recently restored “Resurrection of Christ,” circa 1520, and “The Visitation,” circa 1445. Via the museum, “The Della Robbia family workshop flourished in Florence for about a century, producing expressive artworks for all spheres of life. Portraying both sacred and secular themes, it gained a strong presence in public spaces—from street corners to churches—and private homes. Production of sculpture using this technique lasted only about a century before its secrets were lost. Some of the most familiar images today of Renaissance Italy, Della Robbia sculptures have retained their original color and shine over the centuries.

Giovanni Della Robbia, “Resurrection of Christ,” circa 1520, glazed terracotta, (c) Brooklyn Museum 2016

“The exhibition of glazed terracotta Renaissance works by the Della Robbia and rival workshops spans a variety of formats—Madonna and Child reliefs, small- and large-scale figures, narrative reliefs, coats-of-arms, and still-life compositions—that demonstrate the range and visual impact of the groundbreaking Della Robbia glazing technique.”
“Della Robbia: Sculpting with Color in Renaissance Florence” opened on August 9 and will be on view through December 4. To learn more, visit the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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