Andrea della Robbia
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This monumental altarpiece by Andrea della Robbia adorns the Chapel of the Stigmata at the Franciscan sanctuary of La Verna. The chapel was built to commemorate the site where Saint Francis received the Stigmata, physical imprints in the saint's body of Christ's wounds. The largest glazed terracotta altarpiece ever made by the Della Robbia workshop, it is composed of 720 interlocking pieces and fills the entire wall of the chapel. Characteristic of Andrea's work is his skill in hiding these seams: the clay was carefully cut before firing, so many of the joins are disguised along folds of fabric and ripples of cloud. In a departure from the workshop's standard blue-white bichromy, Andrea used a subtle green cast for the body of the crucified Christ and an orange-brown for his hair. These chromatic choices both stress the humanity of Christ and set him apart from the saints and angels surrounding him. Andrea would use a similar colour scheme in his slightly later altarpiece of the Trinity in Arezzo. Beneath the Crucifixion, a series of colourful patterned tiles, also in glazed terracotta, gives the impression of a tapestry. (Some of these tiles are nineteenth-century replacements.) The altarpiece was commissioned around 1481 by the Florentine Tommaso degli Alessandri, whose arms appear in the predella. Raphael directly emulated Andrea's composition in his own painted Mond Crucifixion of c.1502-3. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.