Luca della Robbia
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This glazed terracotta roundel is one of twelve set in the walls of the Pazzi Chapel in Santa Croce in Florence, the famous work of architecture designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. The building of the chapel, which took decades, is well-documented, but the dates and even authorship of these reliefs are not and so must be established on the basis of style and technique. Unlike the four reliefs in the pendentives above, which are of highly debated attribution, however, most scholars agree in assigning these reliefs on the walls to Luca della Robbia, as both the modelling and the blue and white glazes are characteristic of his oeuvre. This relief of St. Peter is one of the most vigorously modelledin high relief, and because of the resemblance to Luca's reliefs for Florence Cathedral, likely the first one made (c. 1445-50). The glazing is also sophisticated, with the almost completely white figure set against concentric circles of gradations of blue, evoking the heavenly spheres, and sitting and resting his feet on ledges of clouds, which are both modelled and glazed in varying tones of blue and white. The now black lines radiating from Peter are the remains of gilding, which originally further enriched the surface. This relief both complements Brunelleschi's luminous architecture and subtly fights against it, as Peter's halo and the the cloud ledge for his feet overlap the edges of the grey stone (pietra serena) frame. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.