Della Robbia: Sculpting with Color in Renaissance Florence
Marietta Cambareri and Abigail Hykin
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 multicoloured ornaments for major buildings, delicately modelled and ingeniously constructed freestanding statues, serene blue-and-white devotional reliefs, 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. Developed further by each generation, the closely held technique achieved new heights of refinement and durability in modelling and colour, combining elements of painting and sculpture into a new and all but eternal medium. In the 19th century, revived interest in the Renaissance and in the Della Robbia brought their works into major collections beyond Italy, particularly in England and the United States. Recently, 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 book invites readers to experience one of the great inventions of the Renaissance and the enduring beauty it captured.
Marietta Cambareri is Curator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture and Jetskalina H. Phillips Curator of Judaica, Art of Europe, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.