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Relief - The Adoration of the Magi
  • The Adoration of the Magi
    della Robbia, Luca, born 1399 - died 1482
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The Adoration of the Magi

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Florence (made)

  • Date:

    third quarter of the 15th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    della Robbia, Luca, born 1399 - died 1482 (workshop of)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Blue and white enamelled terra cotta

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is a relief made by Luca della Robbia in the third quarter of the 15th century in Florence. The relief is made in blue and white enamelled terracotta. The object was formerly in the Soulages Collection, together with a companion piece of the Nativity, and appears to be part of a disassembled predella from an altarpiece. The composition was followed by Andrea della Robbia in the predellas of two altarpieces, in the Museo Civio at Montepulciano (1484) and in San Bernardino at L'Aquila, and was modified in another in Santa Maria degli Angeli at Assisi.

The Della Robbia family was an Italian family of sculptors and potters. They were active in Florence from the early 15th century and elsewhere in Italy and France well into the 16th. Family members were traditionally employed in the textile industry, and their name derives from rubia tinctorum, a red dye. Luca della Robbia founded the family sculpture workshop in Florence and was regarded by contemporaries as a leading artistic innovator, comparable to Donatello and Masaccio. The influence of antique art and his characteristic liveliness and charm are evident in such works as the marble singing-gallery for Florence Cathedral. He is credited with the invention of the tin-glazed terracotta sculpture for which the family became well known.

Physical description

The relief shows on the extreme right the Virgin on a low seat facing to the left with the Child on her right knee. The right arm of the Child is raised in blessing. Before the group kneels a bearded and wearing a crown, with a gift held in both hands. To the left is a younger King, crowned and clean shaven, with long hair, who wears a stole over his short robe. He holds a gift in his right hand, and his left hand rests on his breast. The eyes and eyebrows are purple. The relief, which has a blue background, is framed on all four sides by a receding white edge, which at the bottom forms a platform for the group.

Place of Origin

Florence (made)


third quarter of the 15th century (made)


della Robbia, Luca, born 1399 - died 1482 (workshop of)

Materials and Techniques

Blue and white enamelled terra cotta


Height: 41.91 cm, Length: 60.96 cm

Object history note

Bought from the Soulages Collection in 1865 for £30.

Descriptive line

Relief, enamelled terracotta panel, Della Robbia ware, representing the Adoration of the Magi, by Luca Della Robbia, Italy (Florence), third quarter of the 15th century

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

Pope-Hennesy, John. Luca della Robbia. Oxford: Phaidon, 1980. pp. 76, 262, pl. 122
Inventory of Art Objects acquired in the Year 1865. Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol. 1. London : Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 16
Pope-Hennessy, John. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Volume I: Text, Sixteenth to Twentieth Century. London: HMSO, 1964, pp. 115-116


Terracotta; Enamel


Enamelling; Relief


Sculpture; Religion; Christianity; Reliefs


Sculpture Collection

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