Stemma of King René of Anjou thumbnail 1
Stemma of King René of Anjou thumbnail 2
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Medieval & Renaissance, Room 50a, The Paul and Jill Ruddock Gallery

Stemma of King René of Anjou

Stemma, Medallion
ca. 1466-1478 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This enormous roundel was made for Jacopo de’ Pazzi, councillor to René of Anjou, whose many titles included King of Naples and Duke of Anjou. René’s coat of arms appears in the centre. Pazzi displayed the stemma on the exterior of his family villa at Montughi to signify his royal favour and René’s visit there in 1442. The Pazzi crosslets on the foot of the left-hand brazier are small, while René’s arms, initials and motto (‘DARDENT DESIR’ or ‘burning desire’) are prominent.

Jacopo de' Pazzi was in the service of the King and may have acted as agent for the commission of the Aix stemma from Luca della Robbia. It is possible that he then commissioned the present stemma (which includes the Pazzi crosslets) for his villa at Montughi, known as the "Loggia de Pazzi", from which it was eventually removed in the mid-nineteenth century. The stemma must have been made between 1466, when King René adopted these armorial bearings, and 1478, when the property of the family was confiscated following the Pazzi Conspiracy.
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object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 15 parts.

  • Roundel
  • Roundel
  • Roundel
  • Roundel
  • Roundel
  • Roundel
  • Roundel
  • Roundel
  • Roundel
  • Roundel
  • Roundel
  • Roundel
  • Roundel
  • Roundel
  • Roundel
Materials and Techniques
Relief in terracotta enamelled in white, yellow, green, blue, manganese-purple, brown and purplish black.
Brief Description
Stemma, or Shield of Arms, by Luca della Robbia, Florence, ca. 1466-1478
Physical Description
Circular relief in terracotta enamelled in white, yellow, green, blue, manganese-purple, brown and purplish black. The centre, which is deeply recessed, displays a shield bearing the arms: quarterly of five, three in chief and two in base, (1) Kingdom of Hungary (ancient), (2) Anjou-Naples, i.e. the arms of the Duchy of Anjou with a label for the Kingdom of Naples, (3) Kingdom of Jerusalem, (4) Duchy of Banjo, (5) Duchy of Bar. Over all, an escutcheon in pretence, for the Kingdom of Aragon. The shield is surmounted by a closed crowned helmet or, posed full face, from which rises the crest, a double fleur-de-lis or between two dragon wings. The helmet and shield are placed on an ermine-lined mantle of the arms of Anjou. Above the crest are the letters IR in tree trunk capitals. Below the shield are the insignia of the Order of the Crescent, a collar inscribed LOS : EN : CROISSANT : . Upon either side is a golden brazier issue manganese-purple flames. The base of the left-hand brazier is ornamented with the fiver crosslets of the Pazzi arms, and from the inner handles of both the braziers depends a band with the motto DARDANT DESIR. Round the green background runs a narrow bordure of manganese purple (used throughout for gules) figured with a fillet raguly argent. The border has recessed within it a wide garland of leaves and fruit-pine-cones, gourds, oranges, figs, grapes, and cucumbers - each on a branch tied with a white band.
Dimensions
  • Diameter: 335.3cm
  • Depth: 25cm
  • Approximately weight: 1143kg
Measured for the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries
Marks and Inscriptions
  • IR (Above the crest these letters are in tree trunk capitals. They are the initials of King René and his second wife Jeanne Laval.)
  • LOS : EN : CROISSANT : (Below the shield are the insignia of the Order of the Crescent, a collar inscribed with LOS : EN : CROISSANT :)
  • DARDANT DESIR (from the inner handles of both the braziers depends a band with the above words)
Object history
Another, slightly different, version existed on the west façade of the Palace of King René of Anjou at Aix-en-Provence (destroyed 1776-86) and a third variation of the design is preserved in a watercolour by François-Roger de Gaignières of about 1700 (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale).



Jacopo de' Pazzi was in the service of the King and may have acted as agent for the commission of the Aix stemma from Luca della Robbia. It is possible that he then commissioned the present stemma (which includes the Pazzi crosslets) for his villa at Montughi, known as the "Loggia de Pazzi", from which it was eventually removed in the mid-nineteenth century. The stemma must have been made between 1466, when King René adopted these armorial bearings, and 1478, when the property of the family was confiscated following the Pazzi Conspiracy.



The stemma was acquired by the Victoria & Albert museum in 1861. Although unrecorded in contemporary documents, this enamelled terracotta relief is unanimously accepted as a work by Lucca della Robbia, executed for Jacopo de' Pazzi some time between 1466 and 1478. Measuring eleven feet in diameter, the monumental scale of the stemma was dictated by its original position, high on an outside wall of the villa.
Historical context
René I, 4th Duke of Anjou, born Angers, 19 January 1409; died Aix-en-Provence, 10 July 1480. Son of Louis II and Yolande of Aragon. He was also the brother-in-law of Charles VII, King of France, and father-in-law of the English king Henry VI. As a second son René had few expectations but acquired prestigious titles through his mother’s diplomatic skills.

Few princes of his day could boast as many titles : Duke of Anjou and Count of Provence (from 1434), Duke of Bar (from 1430), Duke of Lorraine (1431-1453), titular King of Naples, and Sicily, Hungary and Jeruslaem (from 1435) and pretender to the crown of Aragon (from 1466). After being held prisoner by the Duke of Burgundy (1431-32 and 1435-37), he hurried to claim hi Neapolitan inheritance. from 1438 until 1442 he was in effective control of Naples, before being expelled bya rival cliamant, Alfonso of Aragon. Although René played an important part in the Anglo-French negotiations at Tours (1445), he was seldom fortunate in his own political affairs and was more at home in the world of arts and letters. René wrote a number of didactic and moral works as well as romances in both verse and prose. The most famous of these was the Livre du cuer d'amour espris (1475), of which a copy exists in Vienna. René's Book of Hours (1435-36) now in the British Library contains another version of his Coat of Arms and watercolour by French antiquary Gaignieres showing a stemma almost identical to this one and is probbly a copy of a second della Robbia roundel which formely decorated René's palace at Aix (demolished 1776-1786)

In addition to patronising notable Flemish painters such as Nicholas Froment, René was one of the first Northern princes to appreciate Italian Renaissance art. He employed Pietro da Milano as a medalist and Francesco Laurana as a medalist, sculptor and architect. Other Italian works of art were acquired at his behest or sent as gifts by jacopo de' Pazzi.



Jacopo de' Pazzi was a member of an old and illustrious Florentine merchant family and is now best remembered as a leader of the Pazzi conspiracy which attempted to unseat the Medici in 1478. After the disasterous failure of this plot, he was executed, his property confiscated and his coat of arms defaced. Although he held several high offices in Florence, he enjoyed greater favour with René of Anjou. The association of the French prince with the Pazzi family, began in 1442, when René was entertained at the family villa at Montughi. After the death of his father Andrea in 1445, Jacopo strengthened these ties. he served as an agent collecting works of art for René, held the offices of clavaire and viguier of Marseilles and became a royal counsellor. In 1453 he was made a member of The Order Of The Crescent and appended its distinctive symbol to his own armorials. The decoration of Jacopo's villa with this coat of arms of René of Anjou not only recorded the prince's visit there but also stressed the florentine's own status as the trusted servant of a grear foreign lord. one could compare this political purpose of the stemma with those of contemporary portraits of Duke Federigo of Urbino , prominently wearing The Order of The Garter granted to him by Edward IV.This ostentation might have been acceptable for a prince such as Federigo, but was less appropriate for a citizen of the Florentine Republic, winning Jacopo a posthumous reputation for pride and arrogance.



All of Lucca della Robbia's stemme with a fruit frame, save for that of the Mercanzia, were ordered by Jacopo. The circular form of the fruit border suggests a wreath which was honorific and commemorative associations appropriate to the function of a stemma. In some Renaissance works of art fruit and vegetables are used for purely decorative purposes as in the stemma of the Mercanzia also by Lucca della Robbia at Or San Michele. They could also serve a wide variety of emblematic functions, as in Lucca's frieze in the Chapel of the Madonna at imprunetta, where bunches of grapes , citrons and quinces were symbolic respectively of the Eucharist, The Virgin Mary and the Resurrection. As emblematic and decorative requirements overlapped and as the same image could often be symbolically interpreted in several different ways, it is sometime difficult to be sure that an iconographic significance was intended by the artist. In this stemma, the fruits can all be iconographically related to a single coherent theme, which appears to justify a symbolic interpretation of their interpretation. Quince, pine-cones and pears are all symbols of Virtue. Grapes figs and quince can signify Resurrection. Oranges or Lemons and figs can suggest salvation. On another level, pine cones serve as a symbol of Immortality and quince denotes Immortal virtue. Although the cucumber has some negative connotations, it is often ichnographically interchangeable with the gourd, symbolic of Resurrection and Salvation. It therefore seems likely that the fruit was intended to allude to the theme of Virtue and its just reward: Resurrection, Salvation and Immortality. Such general but positive symbolism is quite appropriate to the assertive purpose of a coat of arms. One may check this interpretation with two further examples also commissioned from Lucca della Robbia by Jacopo de' Pazzi. These depict the arms of the Pazzi himself and those of his wife. Maddalena de Serristori. The decorative borders of these reliefs are composed of the same fruits as appear in the border of the stemma of Rene of Anjou, except the quince, figs and pears have been deleted and apples added. The significance of this new addition is consistent with the theme outlined he, as the apple can also symbolise Salvation.



Enamelled terracotta sculpture was produced by a technique very similar to that used since at least the fourteenth century by Italian ceramicists in the making of glazed pottery. Although Lucca della robbia cannot be credited with the discovery of this fundamental principle, he was the first artist to discover a n enamelling technique which could be successfully applied to sculpture. Lucca's technique was a closely guarded secret until after his death, but the basic steps acan be outlined. The artist first modelled his damp clay into the desired shape. This was usually done by hand, although simple designs and

repeat-motifs, could be cast from a mould. The latter method was generally eschewed by Luca although it was often used by Andrea della Robbia. Cast details were inevitably much cruder and more stereotyped than those individually modelled, as may be illustrated by the contrast between the sensitively sculpted foliage of the Stemma of Rene of Anjou and the monotonous formalised flowers from the border of the later della Robbia

roundel of The Adoration of the Shepherds, also at the Victoria and Albert Museum. After the clay had dried, it was fired in an oven. If the sculpture was of considerable

size, it would previously have been cut into sections which were fired separately. This was the case with the Stemma, where the central area is formed of seven or

eight pieces and the border of no less than fourteen. When it had cooled, the clay was treated with a lead glaze before being fired a second time, in order to make its surface harder and impervious to water. The glaze would be coloured by the prior addition of one of the limited number of coloured oxides available. By the standards of the day, the range of pigmentation in the Stemma is a very wide one, comprising six colours:

white, yellow, purple, blue and light and dark green. A multi-part relief, such as the Stemma, would then be pieced together before finally became cemented into the place prepared for it on the wall. In his Life of Luca della Robbia, Vasari described the artist's changeover from marble carving to enamelled terrcotta in the following terms: "Lucca came to realise how slight had been his advantage and how great had been his labour. Accordingly he determined to abandon marble and bronze, and to see if he could derive greater advantage from other methods. It then occurred to him that clay can be manipulated with ease and little trouble, and that the only thing required wit's to discover a means where by work produced in this material could be preserved for a long time.." This rather facile analysis is superficially plausible, but tells part of the story at best. As a medium, terracotta had the advantage that its raw material was cheaper than marble and considerably less expensive than bronze. Most important of all however, was the unique nature of enamelled terracotta asa brightly and permanently coloured form of polychromed sculpture. In a shadowy position such as the inner lintel of a church portal, it was much more clearly visible thank bronze, wood or marble. If set high in an outside wall, as was the case with this stemma, its fused ceramic colours would not only be distinguishable but also proof against the elements.
Subjects depicted
Summary
This enormous roundel was made for Jacopo de’ Pazzi, councillor to René of Anjou, whose many titles included King of Naples and Duke of Anjou. René’s coat of arms appears in the centre. Pazzi displayed the stemma on the exterior of his family villa at Montughi to signify his royal favour and René’s visit there in 1442. The Pazzi crosslets on the foot of the left-hand brazier are small, while René’s arms, initials and motto (‘DARDENT DESIR’ or ‘burning desire’) are prominent.



Jacopo de' Pazzi was in the service of the King and may have acted as agent for the commission of the Aix stemma from Luca della Robbia. It is possible that he then commissioned the present stemma (which includes the Pazzi crosslets) for his villa at Montughi, known as the "Loggia de Pazzi", from which it was eventually removed in the mid-nineteenth century. The stemma must have been made between 1466, when King René adopted these armorial bearings, and 1478, when the property of the family was confiscated following the Pazzi Conspiracy.
Bibliographic References
  • 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, pp. 30, 31
  • Evans, Mark. The Stemma of René of Anjou, Victoria and Albert Museum, Masterpieces series, Sheet 23, 1983. See for a summary of the art historical problems and new information on René's patronage.
  • Pope-Hennessy, John. Luca della Robbia. Oxford, 1980, pp. 36, 58, 59, 78, 248, 249
  • Mérindol, C. de. Le Roi René (1409-1480) Décoration de ses chapelles et demeures. Palais de Chailloz, Paris 1981
  • 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.
  • Kingery, W. D. and Aronson, M. "The Glazes of Luca della Robbia" in Faenza, LXXVI, 1990, pp. 221-4
  • Trusted, Marjorie, ed. The Making of Sculpture. The Materials and Techniques of European Sculpture. London: 2007, p. 44, pl. 72
  • Gentilini, Giancarlo. ed. I Della Robbia, La Scultura invetriata nel Rinascimento. Florence: 1992, illus. p. 112 + 137 and p. 167 note 59
Collection
Accession Number
6740:1 to 15-1860

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record createdAugust 21, 2008
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