Luca Della Robbia – Works In Private Families

Palazzo della Stufa, Piazza. S. Lorenzo.—We have no documents to prove that this medallion was wrought by Luca della Robbia, but it speaks for itself. A splendid frame of fruit and flowers encircles the arms of the della Stufa family. There are in few private collections any bas-reliefs that can equal the beauty of this one. It has never been mentioned in any. guide-book, but experts do not hesitate to give to Luca the authorship of this lovely masterpiece.

Vieri-Canigiani Palace. Via dei Bardi. — In this palace there are three Robbia works. It appears that the family possesses documents proving that they are authentic works of Luca ; but these documents are not open to the public, and the authorship is very much disputed, especially of the one in the courtyard of the palace. M. Marcel Reymond attributes it to Giovanni della Robbia, and sees in it a copy of the “Belle Jardinière” in the Louvre Museum. The two small bas-reliefs in the summer drawing-room have decidedly more of the characteristics of Luca. The lower one, representing the adoring Madonna, with God the Father, surrounded by angels, seems a facsimile of the adoring Madonna in the Bargello. The upper relief, though it reminds us of Andrea, is the only one that we might be inclined to attribute to Luca, but it is with due reserve that we mention his name in connection with it.

Torrigiani Palace. Ponte aile Grazie.—In the ante-chamber there is a portrait in relief that goes under Luca della Robbia’s name.

Ricasoli Palace. Via Maggio,—Cavaliere Guido Carocci mentions in his book, “L’ illustratore Fiorentino,” the three bas-reliefs in the Ricasoli Palace as works of Luca della Robbia. They are of small dimensions, and represent the same subject, the adoring Madonna and Infant Saviour. The medallion in the upper room is without doubt the best composition ; the figures are beautifully modelled, especially the one of S. Joseph. The two other bas-reliefs seem doubtful.

Casa Burlamacchi.—The celebrated Professor Augusto Conti, a most competent judge, does not hesitate to attribute the medallion to Luca della Robbia, and, giving his written opinion on it, believes it to be one of his most exquisite works. Especially noteworthy is the modelling of the hands of the Madonna, and of the joints of the limbs of the Infant Child and S. John. The folds of the mantle of the Virgin have a touch of Raphael about them. The expression of all the figures of the group is one of ideal beauty. It has been also attributed to Luca by Barbet de Jouy, Count de Niewerkerke, Director of the Louvre in the time of Napoleon III., and several others.

Marchese Viviani della Robbia has in his possession a decoration in fruit which Florentine experts attribute to Luca della Robbia. In M. Marcel Reymond’s book it is put among Andrea’s works.

The ” Christ ” in the same collection is equally uncertain.

Vasari writes: ” The fame of Luca della Robbia’s works having spread not only throughout Italy, but all over Europe, there were so many persons desirous of possessing them, that the Florentine merchants kept Luca :continually at work, to his great profit ; they then despatched the products all over the world. The master himself could no longer supply the quantities required, so he took the two Duccio brothers, Ottaviano and Agostino, to work with him. They left their chisels, and they gained much more than they had previously been able to earn by their works in sculpture, for, to say nothing of the commissions which they executed for various parts of Tuscany, they sent many specimens of their art to France and Spain.” He sent to the King of Spain various figures in full relief, and of great beauty. For Naples, also, he constructed the marble sepulchre of the infant brother of the Duke of Calabria. This was decorated in glazed terra-cotta. It was executed in Florence, and afterwards sent to Naples. All traces of these monuments have been lost.