ROBBIA, Andrea della
(b. 1435, Firenze, d. 1525, Firenze)

Agony in the Garden

Glazed terracotta
Musée du Louvre, Paris

The great Florentine tradition of sculpture and decorative work in glazed terracotta emerged in the first half of the Quattrocento, particularly in the production of Luca della Robbia and his family, who gave their name to the medium - della Robbia ware. In Luca's hand it is capable of great subtlety and refinement, but later on the possibility of taking many cheap casts from a single model with a minimum of working-up led to almost mass production and an attendant loss of quality. The colours, originally exploited for subtle aesthetic effects, became brighter, often garish, and the technique tended to sink to the level of popular art.

The Agony in the Garden is a characteristic example of an altarpiece executed in coloured della Robbia ware, and it represents a tradition that continues right into the Baroque era.