Nativity with Adoration of the Shepherds
Workshop of Andrea della Robbia
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This glazed terracotta altarpiece is one of two made for the church of San Lorenzo, Bibbiena, by the workshop of Andrea della Robbia. Because the predella contains the arms of Pope Leo X and Cardinal Bernardo Dovizi of Bibbiena, we can deduce that the altarpiece was made between 1513 (the first year of Leo X's papacy) and 1520 (the year of Dovizi's death). In the foreground, the Christ Child in his manger is adored by the Virgin and St. Joseph, and three cherubs above. To either side of the holy family, a shepherd approaches the group and looks down with reverence toward the Christ Child. In the background, above, an angel announces the birth of Christ to other shepherds. Andrea della Robbia and his sons produced many images of the Nativity and Adoration of the Shepherds, and this altarpiece repeats and recombines numerous motifs seen in these other images. For example, the reclining shepherd in the background is very close to figures found in other altarpieces by Andrea della Robbia and his workshop in Sansepolcro, Militello in Val di Catania, and Città di Castello. While the precise authorship of this sculpture is debated (with Fornasari attributing it to Andrea's son, Luca "il giovane" della Robbia, and Gentilini proposing Andrea in collaboration with another son, possibly Girolamo), its style, quality, and imagery clearly indicate that it was created within the workshop of Andrea della Robbia. The altarpiece was moved and reinstalled during an expansion of the church in 1707; for this reason, the gaps between adjacent sections of glazed terracotta are now much more visibile than they would have been when first installed. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.