Christ in the Sepulchre, Adored by Saints and Angels
Andrea della Robbia and workshop
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This glazed terracotta altarpiece adorns a side altar in the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli at the Franciscan sanctuary of La Verna. At the center of the image is the dead Christ in the sepulchre, whose limp body is held and adored by his visibly distraught mother and St. John the Evangelist, together with angels. The signs of the Passion appear behind Christ's body: the cross, the crown of thorns, whips, a spear, and a sponge. Traces of red paint remain on his torso, where it was applied to the glazed terracotta surface to simulate the appearance of blood dripping from his wound. Gilding, now lost, originally ornamented the blue robe of the Virgin. The predella contains the arms of Maddalena Rucella, who, together with her husband, Domenico Bartoli, 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 the Nativity contain a wider range of glaze colours. Because of the polychromy, these smaller altarpieces are generally thought to be later workshop productions, dating to the early 1490s. Gentilini has suggested that the Christ in the Sepulchre was made by Giovanni della Robbia together with his father, Andrea, while the Nativity was made by Luca "il giovane" della Robbia together with Andrea. Because of the similarity in colour palette, however, it seems more likely that both of the smaller altarpieces were made by the same hand or combination of hands. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.