Artibus et Historiae no. 74 (XXXVII)

2016, ISSN 0391-9064

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ZUZANNA SARNECKA - Luca della Robbia and his Books. The Renaissance Artist as a Devotee (pp. 291–301)

In Biblioteca Marciana and Bibliothèque Nationale de France there are two manuscripts which thanks to the fifteenth-century inscriptions can be identified as once belonging to Luca della Robbia. We know very little about the artist’s biography and it is very tempting to view the books as an indication of his interests and perhaps as a source that informed his art. This article explores the possible impact of Jacopone da Todi’s Cantiche spirituali and Dante’s Vita nuova and Convivio on Luca della Robbia’s glazed terracotta devotional reliefs. The purity of his immaculate white glazes and the emphasis on the mystery of Incarnation and the Virgin’s central role in the history of salvation might have been nourished by those texts, which we know Luca had among his possessions. Moreover, the examination of the surviving manuscripts sheds a new light on the place of personal piety of the artist in his artistic practice. Considering the unparalleled popularity of Della Robbia’s devotional sculptures in Renaissance Italy it is important to evaluate to what extent this was linked to their evident technical supremacy or to their strong spiritual charge, informed by various texts.

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