LUCA DELLA ROBBIA, workshop of
Virgin with Child
Dated: 1440 ca.
Sculpted and painted 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 of thistles arranged to form crosses.
With regard to the molding, as Enzo Carli pointed out, it is of a model retraceable to a 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 must however be underscored that some variations may be observed – in particular the swaying hips of the Virgin, 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 for the authorship of the polychrome, it would be appropriate to recall the close bond between Luca della Robbia and the young Filippo Lippi (1406-1469).
The Corsini model is dated 1440 and this timeline is indicative of the production of our stucco as well.