Andrea della Robbia
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This glazed terracotta altarpiece is currently housed in Santa Maria Primerana in Fiesole behind plexiglass, which makes the work difficult to see and photograph. The inscription (Jeremiah I: 12, calling the traveller to stop and contemplate Christ's sacrifice) suggests that it may have been originally placed in a wayside shrine. It has been moved multiple times within Santa Maria Primerana, as the church was rennovated repeatedly. Neither the angels nor saints look overtly agonized, even the generally frantic Magdalene -- instead they pray in solemn contemplation, the tranquility emphasized by the use of brilliant white glaze for the figures and cross, set against a blue ground. The heavily veiled figures and solem devotion to Christ's sacrifice have been seen as Savonarolan. Andrea and his children are documented to have been defenders and followers of Savonarola. The Domincan preacher called for devotion particularly to the blood of Christ, emphasized here by the angels with great chalices to catch the holy blood falling from the wounds in Christ's hands, but there is no blood depicted. The Della Robbia never found a red glaze, and so the blood must have been painted cold afterwards. Paint does not adhere well to the slick surface of glazed terracotta -- in this case, no visible trace remains. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.