Arms of the Arte della Seta

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Authors
Andrea della Robbia
Keyword
Coat of arms , Arte della Seta , Guild , Silk , Putto
Abstract
This glazed terracotta roundel is on the exterior of Orsanmichele in Florence, high above the niche belonging to the Arte della Seta (silk guild) and serves as a coat of arms for the guild. Orsanmichele performed multiple functions, political, economic, and religious, as the city's granary, but also as the site holding multiple miraculous images. The guilds (economic and political organizations that essentially formed Florence's republican government) had patronized niches on the exterior and commissioned statues by Donatello, Ghiberti and others to show their devotion and display their wealth and power. Luca della Robbia made three coats of arms for Orsanmichele, but this undocumented work is attributed to his nephew, Andrea della Robbia, because of the more mechanical, repetitious quality of the fruit garland, and the long-limbed, rather elegant putti. The bolted door, the sign of the guild, is displayed on a shield, which is then supported by the winged children, themselves standing on clouds, as if the coat of arms is some sort of celestial vision exalted here. Andrea is both therefore imitating his famous uncle's coat of arms for the Mercanzia at Orsanmichele, which has a similar fruit garland and shield, but seeking to outdo this recent work by adding these lively putti. Andrea and his shop would go on to make many more glazed terracotta coats of arms. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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