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Definition: Della Robbia from Chambers Biographical Dictionary

Robia, Luca

c.1400-1482

Italian sculptor

He worked in Florence, and between 1431 and 1440 executed, in a warm natural style, ten panels of angels and dancing boys (the Cantoria) for the cathedral there. He also made (1448-67) a bronze door for the sacristy, with ten panels of figures in relief. From 1457 to 1458, he sculpted the marble tomb of the Bishop of Fiesole. He is equally famous for his figures in terracotta, including medallions and reliefs, and he established a business producing glazed terracottas.


Summary Article: Della Robbia
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(dĕl´´ə rŏb'ēə, Ital. dĕl'lä rôb'byä), Florentine family of sculptors and ceramists famous for their enameled terra-cotta or faience. Many of the Della Robbia pieces are still in their original settings in Florence, Siena, and other Italian cities, but the finest collections are in Florence in the cathedral, the Bargello, and the Italian Academy, and in London in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Luca della Robbia, 1400?–1482, founder of the atelier, was known first as a sculptor in bronze and marble. He was commissioned (1421) to design the choir gallery of the cathedral at Florence. Later he perfected a process for making clay reliefs and figures permanent by coating them with a glaze compounded of tin, antimony, and other substances. In his panels and medallions, the Madonna and saints and angels usually appear in white on a blue background, sometimes with touches of gold and color in the decorative setting. A Madonna and Child is in the Metropolitan Museum. Andrea della Robbia, 1435–1525?, nephew and chief pupil of Luca, made a marble altar for a church near Arezzo and extended the use of clay to whole altarpieces (one is in the Church of Santa Croce, Florence), friezes, and fountains. His medallions on the Foundling Hospital, Florence, show simple baby forms (bambini) on blue ground, but in many of his medallions the central figures are framed in garlands of richly colored fruits and flowers. The Virgin in Adoration, an unglazed terra-cotta relief, is in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Andrea della Robbia's sons, Luca II, c.1480–1550, Giovanni, c.1469–c.1529, and Girolamo, c.1488–1566, carried on the family tradition into the 16th cent.

  • See studies by A. Marquand on the Della Robbias (4 vol., 1973).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

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