Art e Dossier


Art History

Della Robbia: biography

Luca della Robbia was born in Florence sometime between 1399 and 1400, the third son of Simone di Marco di Vanni and Margherita. The earliest information about him dates from 1427 when he joined the Woolmakers’ Guild with his brothers Marco and Giovanni. He worked with Lorenzo Ghiberti on the Door of Paradise for the Baptistry of Florence. Between 1431 and 1438 he was engaged in sculpting one of the Cantoria in the Florence cathedral. In 1432 he joined the Guild of the Stone and Wood Carvers. The success he obtained with the Cantoria brought him other important commissions from the Opera del Duomo, including the five panels depicting the Liberal Arts on the bell tower of Santa Maria del Fiore (1437.1439). In 1441 he began his first experiments with glazing techniques on the Tabernacle of the Blessed Sacrament for the Ospedale di Santa Maria Nuova (now this piece is in Santa Maria at Peretola). The year 1445 was to be fundamental in his career: he made the Visitation for the church of San Giovanni Fuoricivitas in Pistoia and began working on the decorations for the Pazzi chapel that were completed by his nephew Andrea. That same year Luca formed a “company” with Michelozzo and Maso di Bartolomeo to make the bronze door for the sacristy of the Masses in the Florence cathedral that was completed in 1474. On 31 August 1446 Luca and his brother Marco purchased a large house in Via Guelfa; they moved their workshop to those premises and it would remain active for over a century. Marco died two years later and Luca decided to adopt his six nephews. That same year he made the two Angel Candleholders for Santa Maria del Fiore, in 1451 he began working on the ceiling of the Chapel of the Portuguese Cardinal in the church of San Miniato a Monte and made five medallions with the Cardinal Virtues and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit; between 1454 and 1456 he made the Tomb for the Bishop Federighi in the church of Santa Trinita. From the start of the seventh decade his nephew Andrea was becoming more and more active in the workshop, he worked with his uncle on decorating the two aediculae by Michelozzo in the sanctuary of Santa Maria all’Impruneta and the triptych for the oratory of San Biagio at Pescia. In 1472, Luca who was tired and ill, drew up a new will naming his nephew Simone as his heir. His final piece dates from the late ‘Seventies, it was the lunette for the convent of the Santucce and is known as the Madonna di via dell’Agnolo. Luca della Robbia died on 20 February 1482 and was interred in the family tomb in the church of San Pier Maggiore in Florence.

The works