Christ and an Old Man

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Andrea della Robbia and Workshop
Christ , old man , mercy , charity
This glazed terracotta roundel ornaments the portico of the Ospedale di San Paolo dei Convalescenti in Florence, designed by Michelozzo at the behest of Benino Benini, beginning in 1451 and finished in 1495, as inscribed on the facade. Christ is shown giving mercy to a an old, balding man in rags, just as the weak and sick receive help in the hospital. Andrea della Robbia is known for his predominantly blue and white compositions, but here he (probably working with one or more of his sons) uses a range of pastel colours, including naturalistic flesh tones, and sculpts the figures with a wiry nervous energy. Some scholars see the new naturalism here as Savonarolan, given that Andrea and his children are documented to have been followers and defenders of the fiery preacher. This portico faces the Piazza Santa Maria Novella, and so these roundels are a vital part of the cityscape in one of the most prominent locations in Florence. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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