The Early Renaissance



Andrea della Robbia



della Robbia

Italian family of sculptors and potters.
They were active in Florence from the early 15th century and elsewhere in Italy and France well into the 16th. Family members were traditionally employed in the textile industry, and their name derives from rubia tinctorum, a red dye. Luca della Robbia founded the family sculpture workshop in Florence and was regarded by contemporaries as a leading artistic innovator, comparable to Donatello and Masaccio. The influence of antique art and his characteristic liveliness and charm are evident in such works as the marble singing-gallery for Florence Cathedral. He is credited with the invention of the tin-glazed terracotta sculpture for which the family became well known. His nephew Andrea della Robbia, who inherited the workshop, tended to use more complex compositions and polychrome glazing rather than the simple blue-and-white schemes favoured by his uncle. Several of Andrea’s sons worked in the shop. Marco della Robbia (b 6 April 1468; d 1529–34), perhaps the least talented of the sons, became a Dominican monk in 1496 but continued to execute sculpture, e.g. the lunette of the Annunciation (1510–15; Lucca, S Frediano). Andrea’s sons Giovanni della Robbia and Luca della Robbia the younger (b 25 Aug 1475; d before 6 Nov 1548) inherited the workshop and were responsible for adapting its production to 16th-century taste, influenced by contemporary Florentine painting. Another son, Francesco della Robbia (b 23 July 1477; d 1527–8) joined the Dominican convent of S Marco in Florence in 1495 but maintained links with the family shop. His work included plastic groups such as the Nativity of Santo Spirito in Siena (1504), and terracotta altarpieces, some executed in collaboration with his brother Marco. In the 1520s Marco and Francesco spent some time in the Marches, near Macerata, where they realized numerous glazed terracotta works. Girolamo della Robbia was the only son of Andrea to continue the reputation of the family’s terracotta works beyond the mid-16th century. He spent much of his life in France, working for the royal court, often in collaboration with Luca the younger, who joined him there in 1529. 

Andrea della Robbia

(b Florence, 20 Oct 1435; d Florence, 4 Aug 1525).

Nephew of Luca della Robbia. He trained with his uncle and assisted in his workshop. In 1458 he enrolled in the Arte dei Maestri di Pietra e Legname (stone and woodworkers’ guild) as an intagliatore (carver), although he continued working with his uncle. His early works, including the altarpiece of the Virgin and Child with Saints ( 1466; Florence, Misericordia), reflect styles codified by Luca, which makes them difficult to identify among workshop products of the mid-15th century.





Glazed terracotta
Ospedale degli Innocenti, Florence




Glazed terracotta
Ospedale degli Innocenti, Florence



Adoration of the Child

Terracotta, diameter: 73 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest


Agony in the Garden

Glazed terracotta
Musee du Louvre, Paris


Madonna of the Stonemasons

Glazed terracotta, 134 x 96 cm
Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence


Head of a Youth


The Adoration of the Child
after 1477


Madonna and Child with Cherubim
c. 1485


Madonna and Child with God the Father and Cherubim


The Nativity with Saints Anthony of Padua and Nicholas of Bari


Virgin adoring the Child, with God the Father and angels


Virgin, from The Annunciation
c. 1465


Vierge a l'enfant et deux cherubins,
dite Madone Foulc


St Augustine


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