The Madonna And Child – Luca Della Robbia

FLORENTINE, 1399-1482

This charming group will doubtless win for itself an affectionate regard above that accorded to any other sculpture in the Altman bequest and above most of the Della Robbia figures available to the American public. In its fine simplicity and unpretending beauty it is excelled by few works of those Florentine modelers who made in enameled terracotta equivalents to the more pretentious marbles carried out by the stone-cutters of the time. This Madonna is definitely accepted as the work of Luca della Robbia, who with his kinsmen, Andrea and Giovanni, gave the family name to this variety of sculpture, and whose atelier produced the great majority of those brightly colored and familiar reliefs which in their day were used as adjuncts to architecture, but which in our own are considered more precious than the buildings they ornament. The fact that all color is omitted from the soft white surface of this group is unusual and gives added value to the touches of manganese on the eyes of Mother and Child and to the black inscription on the scroll, the Latin equivalent for ” I am the Light of the World.” Allan Marquand in Della Robbias in America, No. 1, describes this Madonna, which he considers to have been made for a niche, and which he states was formerly in the collection of Conte Leonello di Mobili in Florence. Wilhelm Bode, in Zeitschrift fur bildende Kunst, XXI, September, 1910, illustrates and describes the same work.