Madonna, with Child, Crowned by Angels with Saints John the Baptist and Peter
Andrea della Robbia
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As stated in the inscription, this glazed terracotta altarpiece was commissioned by Niccolò di Giovanni Posi in 1507. Andrea della Robbia and his workshop made many such altarpieces of the Madonna and Child with saints and angels, framed in classical architecture. (They may well have used molds to help standardize the process.) The altarpiece is somewhat old-fashioned, with frontally facing figures and a hierarchy of scale (Mary and Jesus much larger than the saints). This archaizing style and the heavily draped figure of Mary has led scholars to suggest a link to the "Scuola di San Marco," the name art historians give to artists working in a style that reflects the sentiments of the fiery preacher Girolamo Savonarola, even after he was burned at the stake for heresy. The central figures are glazed mostly blue and the famous Della Robbia luminous white, whereas the fruit in the pilasters has a more naturalistic range of colors. Unusually, extensive gilding and red paint, applied after glazing, survive. (The Della Robbia were unable to make red glaze, and so any red needed to be painted on afterwards.) It is not clear if these are original. Originally in San Francesco in Montalcino, the work is found today in the Museo Civico e Diocesano d'Arte Sacra, Montalcino. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International.