Architecture Around the World........................Terra Cotta - Table of Contents

Della Robbias - Sculptures from the Italian Renaissance
An exhibit at the Bijbels Museum, 366 Herengracht, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Beneath Illustrations

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Ospedale degli Innocenti

Detail from previous photo

Terra Cotta: baked clay tiles of any shape (in molds) often fired with a colored glaze.

Terra cotta is a hard, semifired, waterproof ceramic clay used in pottery and building construction.

Used mainly for wall covering and ornamentation as it can be fired in molds.

Oftentimes, white or colored glaze is applied on the face of the brick.

Terra cotta for more information and examples from the architecture in Buffalo, NY

The Della Robbias were a dynasty of sculptors who were active in Florence during the second half of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th centuries.

The founder of the dynasty was Luca della Robbia (1399-1492), the creator of the famous marble reliefs of the choir loft in the Cathedral of Florence.

Luca was the first to develop the process of coloring and glazing terra cotta and using it for sculpture and reliefs. From 1440 on he devoted himself entirely to this new technique. It proved to be so successful that he opened a large bottega (workshop) and was soon helped by his cousin Andrea della Robbia (1435-1525). Many of Andrea's sons followed in their father's footsteps and joined the bottega, among them Giovanni, Luca (the Younger) and Girolamo.

The Della Robbias' success story ended in 1527, when the family was severely stricken by the plague.

Many beautiful Della Robbia pieces can still be seen in situ, in Tuscany and Umbria. But France also has a collection, most of which was acquired in Rome in 1862 by Napoleon III from the collection of the marquis of Campana. All the terra cottas on this page (except for the first two) are from this collection and were photographed in January, 2004 at the Bijbels Museum in Amsterdam. The exhibit was organized in collaboration with the Louvre in Paris.

Photos and their arrangement © 2004 Chuck LaChiusa
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