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Altarpiece the assumption of the virgin - The Assumption of the Virgin
  • The Assumption of the Virgin
    Robbia, Giovanni della, born 1469
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The Assumption of the Virgin

  • Object:

    Altarpiece the assumption of the virgin

  • Place of origin:

    Florence (made)

  • Date:

    early 16th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Robbia, Giovanni della, born 1469 (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Polychrome, enamelled terracotta

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

In the left foreground, before a tomb filled with lilies and roses, is St. Thomas, turned to the right and kneeling on his right knee. He raises both hands towards the Virgin, who is shown in the centre seated in a raised mandorla framed by cherub heads. She inclines her head towards him, and with her right hand drops her girdle. The mandorla is supported by three flying angels at each side. The glazing of the figures is white, and that of the background blue. The panels of the tomb are coloured alternately porphyry and green, and the flowers are white with yellow stamens and green leaves. The eyes are brown. The relief is framed at the sides by white pilasters and at the top by a frieze of white cherub heads on a blue ground. Above, in a lunette, is God the Father in half-length between the two six-winged cherub heads, holding in his left hand an open book with the letters Alpha and Omega. The lunette, is enamelled in white and blue with deep yellow in the halo, on the neck of the robe of God the Father, on a cross worn round the neck, and on the clasps of the book. The eyes and lettering are purplish black.

Place of Origin

Florence (made)


early 16th century (made)


Robbia, Giovanni della, born 1469 (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques

Polychrome, enamelled terracotta


Height: 189.2 cm of altarpiece (without lunettes), Width: 177.8 cm of altarpiece (without lunettes), Height: 68.6 cm of lunettes, Width: 137.2 cm of lunettes, Weight: 400 kg

Object history note

Purchased in Florence, the lunette was purchased with a rectangular altarpiece of the Assumption by Andrea della Robbia, but is larger in scale and later in style. It is related to a lunette showing God the Father which crowns an altarpiece of the Virgin and Child with Saints now in the Seminario, Fiesole, dated 1520.

Historical significance: This is the latest in date of a series of representations of God the Father in lunettes or roundels that were manufactured in the Della Robbia workshop from about 1475 on.

Descriptive line

Altarpiece, polychrome enamelled terracotta, workshop of Giovanni della Robbia, Florence, ca. 1520

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1860. In: Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol I. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 11
Maclagan, Eric and Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture. Text. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1932, p. 52
Pope-Hennessy, John. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Volume I: Text. Eighth to Fifteenth Century. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1964, p. 218, 219
Levi, Donata. In: Gentilini, Giancarlo, ed. I Della Robbia e l'arte nuova della scultura invetriata





Subjects depicted

Cherub-head; Cross; Tomb; Halo; Roses; Book; Flowers; Lilies; Leaves; Pilasters; Angels; Christianity


Christianity; Religion; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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