St. James

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Luca della Robbia
St. James
This glazed terracotta roundel is one of twelve set in the walls of the Pazzi Chapel in Santa Croce in Florence, the famous work of architecture designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. The building of the chapel, which took decades, is well-documented, but the dates and even authorship of these reliefs are not and so must be established on the basis of style and technique. Unlike the four reliefs in the pendentives above, which are of highly debated attribution, however, most scholars agree in assigning these reliefs on the walls to Luca della Robbia, as both the modelling and the blue and white glazes are characteristic of his oeuvre. This relief of St. James Major is one of the most vigorously modelledin high relief and is likely one of the earlier ones created for the space (c. 1450-60). The glazing is also sophisticated, with the almost completely white figure set against concentric circles of gradations of blue, evoking the heavenly spheres, and sitting and resting his feet on ledges of clouds, which are both modelled and glazed in varying tones of blue and white. This relief both complements Brunelleschi's luminous architecture and subtly fights against it, as James's halo, staff, and the the cloud ledge for his feet overlap the edges of the grey stone (pietra serena) frame. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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