The Nativity with Saints Francis and Anthony of Padua
Andrea della Robbia and workshop
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This glazed terracotta altarpiece of the Nativity adorns a side altar in the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli at the Franciscan sanctuary of La Verna. The Christ Child, in the center of the image, is adored by the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, as well as Saints Francis and Anthony of Padua at either side. In the sky above, angels hold out a scroll inscribed with the words and musical notation of the song they sing to celebrate Christ's birth: "Gloria in excelsis Deo." The altarpiece is located on the left side of the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli at the Franciscan sanctuary of La Verna. The predella contains the arms of Domenico Bartoli, who, together with his wife Maddalena Rucellai, was also the patron of the two other Della Robbia altarpieces in this church. While the main altarpiece of the Madonna della Cintola is executed in the blue-white bichromy characteristic of Andrea and Luca della Robbia, this and the other side altarpiece of Christ in the Sepulchre contain a wider range of glaze colours. Here, the saints' skin tones, hair, and garments are naturalistically coloured; even the short beards of Saints Francis and Anthony are suggested through subtle application of a grey glaze. Because of the polychromy, this altarpiece is generally thought to be a later workshop production, dating to the early 1490s. Gentilini has suggested that the altarpiece was made by Luca "il giovane" della Robbia together with his father, Andrea. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.