LUCA DELLA ROBBIA, workshop of
Virgin with Child
relief in polychrome stucco, cm. 38,5×28,5
The outstanding original fifteenth-century polychrome rendition is the most fascinating element of this bas-relief in stucco. The highly refined painterly details are rendered with touching graphic skill, as in the facial features and in the refined decoration of the Virgin’s veil and the clothes of the Child, embellished by a motif with thistles arranged to form crosses.
As to the molding, as Enzo Carli pointed out, it is a matter of a model retraceable to the well-known typology, diffused through numerous replicas made both by the master himself and others, of the Corsini Madonna by Luca della Robbia, dateable to the fifth or sixth decade of the fifteenth century.
Notwithstanding the evident close relationship with the aforementioned model by Della Robbia, it has however to be underscored that some variations may be observed, in particular the way the Virgin sways her hips, still of gothic inspiration, the veil, crinkled and arranged to cover the hair, the impetuous and quick manners of the Child, that bear witness to the as yet fresh experiences of Masaccio and Donatello, that suggest this stucco may be inspired by an older prototype of the versions known to us as the Corsini Madonna, probably sculpted by the self-same Luca della Robbia in the Twenties of the fifteenth century. As to the authorship of the polychrome it would moreover be appropriate to remind of the close bonds between Luca della Robbia and the young Filippo Lippi (1406-1469).