Della Robbia: Sculpting with Color in Renaissance Florence

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Della Robbia: Sculpting with Color in Renaissance Florence

February 12, 2018 - 1:15 pm - 3:00 pm

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Luca della Robbia, Nativity with Gloria in Excelsis, about 1470, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Marietta Cambareri, Senior Curator of European Sculpture and Phillips Curator of Judaica, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

In 15th century Florence, Luca della Robbia invented a glazing technique for terracotta sculpture that delivered brilliant colors and shining surfaces which have endured the test of time and look today much as they did when they were first made.  Praised by Renaissance writers from Alberti to Vasari, Luca passed his signature glazed terracotta technique on to his nephew Andrea and Andrea’s sons, creating a family workshop where the secrets of the glaze recipe were kept tightly under wraps. These brilliantly colored sculptures punctuated the streets, homes and churches of Renaissance Florence, and even today they stand as one of the most distinctive creations of the period.

This lecture will discuss the invention of the technique and its esteemed place in the creative and competitive world of 15th century Florence, and will track the history of taste for the material up into our own time.  The recent exhibition Della Robbia: Sculpting with Color in Renaissance Florence (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.) was the first exhibition dedicated to Della Robbia sculpture to be presented in America. The lecture will present insight into the development and presentation of the exhibition, calling attention to American collecting interest in the material, which was much sought after in the decades around 1900, and which has once again captured the attention and the hearts of American collectors and museum goers.

 

Marietta Cambareri is the curator of Della Robbia: Sculpting with Color in Renaissance Florence (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2016-2017) and the principal author of the book that accompanied the exhibition. She holds a Ph.D. from the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU and has worked at the Museum of Fine Arts since 2001.  She continues to publish work based on her dissertation, Ippolito Scalza and the 16th Century Renovation Projects at Orvieto Cathedral.  She previously worked in the Sculpture Department at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles and is co-author of the Catalogue of Italian and Spanish Sculpture at the Getty Museum. She has been an Adjunct Lecturer at New York University, Washington Square College, and at Boston College.  At the MFA, she curated the 2007 exhibition Donatello to Giambologna: Italian Renaissance Sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and is the co-author of a recent MFA Highlights book on European Paintings and Sculpture after 1800.

Above:
Luca della Robbia, Nativity with Gloria in Excelsis, about 1470, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston