St. Matthew

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Filippo Brunelleschi, attributed to
St. Matthew
This glazed terracotta roundel is one of four in the pendentives of the Pazzi Chapel in Santa Croce in Florence, the famous work of architecture designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. These four reliefs, clearly different in style, colouring, and technique from the other glazed terracotta works in the same chapel, have puzzled scholars, who have attributed them to Brunelleschi, Donatello, Luca della Robbia, and others. They must have been made before 1460 and were more likely made c. 1445. At this date Luca della Robbia was the master of glazed terracotta and kept the recipes and techniques for applying the glazes, which he had famously invented, a family secret. The reliefs, however, are not in Luca's style, and the wide range of colours used, including flesh tones for the skin, differ from Luca's works in this period, in which the flesh is glazed white. One solution is to suggest that these sculptures were modelled by Brunelleschi or Donatello and glazed by Luca (or, if done later, his nephew Andrea). Another possibility is to suggest that other artists were more involved with experiments in glazed terracotta than previously thought. In either case, Brunelleschi seems more likely the sculptor here, both because he designed the chapel and because of similarities to his sculptural works, such as his competition relief of the Sacrifice of Isaac. The sculptures that survive by Brunelleschi, however, are of different media and from earlier in his career, and so it is difficult to make comparisons. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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