Luca della Robbia

Luca della Robbia

Ask a question about 'Luca della Robbia'
Start a new discussion about 'Luca della Robbia'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum

Luca della Robbia was an Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 sculptor from Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

, noted for his terra-cotta roundels.

Luca Della Robbia developed a pottery
Pottery is the material from which the potteryware is made, of which major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made is also called a pottery . Pottery also refers to the art or craft of the potter or the manufacture of pottery...

Ceramic glaze
Glaze is a layer or coating of a vitreous substance which has been fired to fuse to a ceramic object to color, decorate, strengthen or waterproof it.-Use:...

 that made his creations more durable in the outdoors and thus suitable for use on the exterior of buildings. His work is noted for its charm rather than the drama of the work of some of his contemporaries. Two of his famous works are The Nativity, circa 1460 and Madonna and Child, circa 1475. He is the first of a dynasty of important pottery artists: Andrea della Robbia
Andrea della Robbia
Andrea della Robbia was an Italian Renaissance sculptor, especially in ceramics. He was the son of Marco della Robbia. Andrea della Robbia's uncle, Luca della Robbia, popularized the use of glazed terra-cotta for sculpture...

 (his nephew) and Giovanni della Robbia
Giovanni della Robbia
thumb|250px|Saint Sebastian, [[Musée du Louvre]], Paris.Giovanni della Robbia was an Italian Renaissance ceramic artist. He was the son of Andrea della Robbia and grandnephew of Luca della Robbia....

 (his grandnephew, son of Andrea).

Della Robbia was praised by his compatriot Leon Battista Alberti for genius comparable to that of the sculptors Donatello
Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi , also known as Donatello, was an early Renaissance Italian artist and sculptor from Florence...

 and Lorenzo Ghiberti
Lorenzo Ghiberti
Lorenzo Ghiberti , born Lorenzo di Bartolo, was an Italian artist of the early Renaissance best known for works in sculpture and metalworking.-Early life:...

, the architect Filippo Brunelleschi
Filippo Brunelleschi
Filippo Brunelleschi was one of the foremost architects and engineers of the Italian Renaissance. He is perhaps most famous for inventing linear perspective and designing the dome of the Florence Cathedral, but his accomplishments also included bronze artwork, architecture , mathematics,...

, and the painter Masaccio
Masaccio , born Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Simone, was the first great painter of the Quattrocento period of the Italian Renaissance. According to Vasari, Masaccio was the best painter of his generation because of his skill at recreating lifelike figures and movements as well as a convincing sense...

. By ranking him with contemporary artists of this stature, Alberti reminds us of the interest and strength of Luca's work in marble and bronze, as well as in the terra-cottas always associated with his name.


There are no certain details of Luca della Robbia's youth, training, or early sculpture, and many of his most popular later works cannot be dated absolutely. He was born in Florence Italy.

His first documented commission, the Cantoria ("Singing Gallery"; 1431-1438) for the Cathedral of Florence proves that he must have been an accomplished artist long before joining the Sculptors' Guild in 1432. The Singing Gallery shows children singing, dancing, and making music to "praise the Lord" in the words of Psalm 150. Their figures are at once lively, finely observed, and gracefully combined in groups designed to fit the ten panels of the gallery.

In the next two decades della Robbia executed important commissions in marble and bronze: a series of marble reliefs (1437) for the bell tower of the Cathedral of Florence; a marble and enameled terra-cotta tabernacle (1443), now in S. Maria in Peretola; bronze angels to enrich the Singing Gallery; and, in collaboration with Michelozzo
thumb|250px|[[Palazzo Medici]] in Florence.Michelozzo di Bartolomeo Michelozzi was an Italian architect and sculptor.-Biography:...

, the large project of bronze doors for the Sacristy of the Cathedral. These doors were not finished until 1469; their reliance on a few figures placed in simple, orderly compositions against a flat ground contrasts sharply with the elaborate pictorial effects of Lorenzo Ghiberti
Lorenzo Ghiberti
Lorenzo Ghiberti , born Lorenzo di Bartolo, was an Italian artist of the early Renaissance best known for works in sculpture and metalworking.-Early life:...

's more famous Baptistery doors.

His earliest surviving freestanding sculpture is the white tin-glazed terracotta Visitation in the church of San Giovanni Fuoricivitas
San Giovanni Fuoricivitas
San Giovanni Fuoricivitas is a Romanesque religious complex in Pistoia, Tuscany, central Italy. The adjective fuoricivitas refers to the fact that, when it was founded during the Lombard rule in Italy, was located outside the city walls.-History:No traces remain of the original Lombard...

 of Pistoia, dating to 1445. Although the date of della Robbia's first work in colored glazed terra-cotta is not known, his control of this medium was clearly enough recognized to justify two major commissions for the duomo of Florence: the large reliefs of the Resurrection (also from 1445) and the Ascension of Christ (1446). The pliant medium of baked clay covered with a "slip" of vitrified lead and refined permitted a lustrous, polished surface capable of reflecting light and using color that was beautifully appropriate for architectural sculpture. Whether animating the vast, somber space of the Cathedral or in the series Twelve Apostles gracing the pristine surfaces of the small Pazzi Chapel (1443-1450) in Florence, della Robbia's reliefs in this medium achieved a perfection never before or since attained.

Working with assistants, including members of his own family, della Robbia produced a number of decorative reliefs and altarpieces until the end of his life. One of the finest and richest examples is the enameled terra-cotta ceiling (1466) of the Chapel of the Cardinal of Portugal in S. Miniato, Florence.

Luca della Robbia died in Florence in February 1483.

External links

  • Illustrated biography (based on Giorgio Vasari
    Giorgio Vasari
    Giorgio Vasari was an Italian painter, writer, historian, and architect, who is famous today for his biographies of Italian artists, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing.-Biography:...

    's Lives
    Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects
    The Lives of the Most Excellent Italian Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, from Cimabue to Our Times, or Le Vite de' più eccellenti pittori, scultori, e architettori da Cimabue insino a' tempi nostri, as it was originally known in Italian, is a series of artist biographies written by 16th century...