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  • Archband
    Robbia, Andrea della, born 1435 - died 1525
  • Enlarge image


  • Place of origin:

    Florence (made)

  • Date:

    early 16th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Robbia, Andrea della, born 1435 - died 1525 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Relief in polychrome enamelled terracotta

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The reliefs of cherub heads formed part of a continuous frame, together with one other in the Museum's collection. Similar frames are found in a number of late altarpieces from the workshop of Andrea della Robbia.

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. He is credited with the invention of the tin-glazed terracotta sculpture for which the family became well known.

Andrea della Robbia was the Nephew of Luca della Robbia, who founded the workshop and invented the technique of enamelled terracotta.
This technique is about evenly applying pigment suspended in tin-oxide glaze to the fired terracotta before refiring. The pallet was restricted and it was eg. not possible to reproduce flesh-tones, so these areas have been left unglazed, and would have been painted instead to create a more natural effect.

Trained as a marble sculptor in the studio of his uncle Luca, Andrea della Robbia also became an excellent modeller, unrivalled in his ability to capture the life of his subjects in glazed clay.

Physical description

Semicircular architrave, which has a bead-and-button moulding above and a cord moulding below, enamelled in white, with a six-winged cherub head. The wings are enamelled in purple, the halo is yellow, and the head is unglazed.

Place of Origin

Florence (made)


early 16th century (made)


Robbia, Andrea della, born 1435 - died 1525 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Relief in polychrome enamelled terracotta


Height: 26.7 cm, Length: 50.8 cm

Descriptive line

Parts of a semi-circular architrave with cherub heads, workshop of Andrea della Robbia, Florence, early 16th century

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. 85
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, pp. 229, 230




Enamelling; Relief


Sculpture; Earthenware


Sculpture Collection

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