Virgin Mary and St. John the Evangelist Mourning
Luca della Robbia, Workshop of, attributed to
MetadataShow full item record
These painted terracotta sculptures of the mourning Virgin Mary and St. John the Evangelist flank an older crucifix, which was originally a processional cross, but then was affixed here, with a frescoed backdrop and the terracotta mourners, to create a Crucifixion scene. This assemblage is in the Villani Chapel (the architecture of which was made by Michelozzo in 1445) in Santissima Annunziata in Florence, a church renowned for the miraculous image of the Annunciation. The cross here is also particularly revered, as it was used during the devotions of the Bianchi in 1399. The Bianchi were a lay devotional movement that swept across Italy. People wore white, performed penitential acts, sang songs, and went on great processions carrying crucifixes in an attempt to escape God's wrath (in the form of the plague). Many of these crucifixes were recorded to have performed miracles --speaking, moving, spouting blood, healing, etc., and so all of the Bianchi crucifixes gained an aura of the miraculous, whether that specific object had performed a miracle or no. Giancarlo Gentilini and others have attributed these sculptures to Luca della Robbia's workshop, but this is contested. The naturalistic polychromy here (rather than glazing) makes sense for works flanking what was originally a naturalistically painted crucifix. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.