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sculpture-msg - 7/23/04


Period sculpture. Terra-cotta sculpture.


NOTE: See also the files: pottery-msg, plaster-msg, tiles-msg, tiles-art, ivory-msg, frescoes-msg, glasswork-msg, brass-rub-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I  have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given by the individual authors.


Please  respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The  copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear at this time. If  information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



Subject: Re: ANST - Terracotta Sculpture

Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 08:13:15 MST

From: "D. R. Hoffpauir" <env_drh at shsu.edu>

To: ansteorra at Ansteorra.ORG


"Nathan W. Jones" wrote:

> Has anyone seen, heard of, or read anything about terracotta

> sculpture in our period, or plaster sculpture? Surely they

> must have done it.  And, by sculpture, I mean 'art for art's

> sake', not necessisarily tilework, functional pottery or such.


It's been just long enough since my Art History days to be foggy, but I

recall there was just this sort of work shop in Florence in the 15th century.

Founded by Luca della Robbia, it specialized in religious terra-cotta bas-relief

used as architectural decorative elements.  The workshop remained active into

the 16th century and was passed down through the family. Most notable was

Andrea della Robbia, a nephew, who specialized in narrative sculpture done both

in marble and ceramic.  Andrea's sons, Giovanni, Girolamo, Luca the Younger,

and Ambrogio, also became terra-cotta sculptors.


    Most of their work is religious or funerary, but they also did terra-cotta

portrait.  The 'Tondo Portrait of a Lady' is one example and it hints at your

question about middle-class art, though I'd imagine 'the Lady' is not

middle-class.  Andrea also did the medallions on the Foundling Hospital in

Florence which show simple 'bambini' forms on a blue background.


    Typical of all their work is bas-relief terra-cotta and I know that the

della Robbia work shop was sort of the Renaissance spring-board that led to

decorative use of plaster and terra-cotta in the barouque. I'll have to dig

a little deeper to see what precursored Luca della Robbia.


    You may also look into the origins of guilded statuary and painting frames.

Much of the barouque 'gold-leaf' statuary and painting frames were plaster.


> But, (again, just a guess) surely by the time of the Renaissance

> there was enough of a middle class to support a cheap decorative

> art.  Especially in cities where it was hard enough keeping up

> with the 'Medici's'.  I refuse to believe that all sculpture in

> our period was either done in stone or cast metal.


Note here:  Donatello's 'The Penitent Magdalene' was done in wood with gold

leaf.  He and the della Robbia's were contemporaries from Florence and

likely would have known something of each other's methods.


'The Penitent Magdalene' can be seen at:


(under Donatello)


> Gio

> Northkeep

> Ansteorra


Hope this helps,

David St. David, Raven's Fort


these web sites are in Italian but they've got photos




You can also see reproductions of the della Robbia's work in the 'Design

Toscano' catalog (just in case you'd like to buy one).





Subject: Re: ANST - Terracotta Sculpture

Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 09:21:08 MST

From: "Donald Riney" <dariusobells at hotmail.com>

To: ansteorra at Ansteorra.ORG


Actually Terra cotta goes way Back, pick up a Book calle "A Handbook of

Roman Art" ISBN 0801492424 Edited by Martin Henig. Chapters 8 and 9 cover

pottery and terracotta in Roman times, Also check to see how early

decorative Plaster carving started in Morocco.


Hopefully Helpfull

HL Darius of the Bells



Subject: Re: ANST - Terracotta Sculpture

Date: Wed, 19 May 99 12:52:12 MST

From: "D. R. Hoffpauir" <env_drh at shsu.edu>

To: ansteorra at Ansteorra.ORG


"Nathan W. Jones" wrote:

> David St.David wrote:

> >    It's been just long enough since my Art History days

> >to be foggy, but I recall there was just this sort of work

> >shop in Florence in the 15th century.  Founded by Luca della

> >Robbia, it specialized in religious terra-cotta bas-relief

> >used as architectural decorative elements.


> [more great info snipped]


> Woohoo!  Thank you David!  This is exactly the type of reference

> that I was hoping for!  Like I mentioned in my original email

> I've found examples of representitive three dimensonal terracotta

> sculpture in Antiquity, but have found scant references to it

> in our period.  Especially in Medieval and Renaissance Europe.

> I will throw myself in this thread of research with abandon!


> Gio

> Northkeep

> Ansteorra


    I've looked into the della Robbia stuff some more. Gardener's 'Art Through

the Ages' credits Luca della Robbia with being first to mass produce terra cotta

sculpture in the Renaissance.  He is also credited with starting the movement to

'sweetness and lightness' in sculptural figures.  Gardener specifically mentions

Luca's works were done as a cheap alternative to marble and that they were

very popular.  della Robbia was not the only artist working in terra cotta.

Donatello and many others to follow did as well.  What separated della

Robbia was a new method of glazing.


    Majolica, a lead based glaze at the time, was well know, but was

unpredictable in results and produced a dull color and finish.  Sometime around

1430, Luca della Robbia began substituting tin which gave predictable results

and a high color finish.  His success was not only in that he mass produced

objects cheaply, he also made them colorful and attractive.  These works were

some of the first 'art objects' affordable to the middle class.  Following della

Robbia, Majolica glazes use tin oxide.  All sort of utilitarian ceramics

(plates, bowls, salt cellars, ink wells) with non-religious decorative

elements are common trade items by 1500.


    Other than the use of terra cotta as an architectural element, the trail

seems to stop (in period) before della Robbia.  If you find anything let me



    ....I snipped the portion of my message that dives off into early Italian

Renaissance art and the notion of 'art for arts sake.'  If you are

interested let me know and I'll forward it.


David St. David



Subject: Re: ANST - Terracotta Sculpture (long)

Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 15:51:41 MST

From: "D. R. Hoffpauir" <env_drh at shsu.edu>

To: ansteorra at Ansteorra.ORG


Ace wrote:

> >> David St.David wrote:


> >What separated della Robbia was a new method of glazing.


>   >Majolica, a lead based glaze at the time, was well know, but was

> unpredictable in results and produced a >dull color and finish.  Sometime

> around 1430, Luca della Robbia began substituting tin which gave

> >predictable results and a high color finish.


> My lord:


> I enjoyed your post, but I must address the statement above.  While the

> della Robbia family made great contributions to the enhancement of majolica,

> a much richer history of majolica and\or tin glazed pottery exists:


> In my opinion and research, majolica has its roots (and some would argue

> beginnings) as far back as the ancient Middle East, and was propogated by

> the Babylonians.  Ancient Egyptians were noted to make pottery of coarse

> clay and cover it with an opaque tin-oxide glaze, which was later known in

> Italy as Faience.  Molded pieces with lead glaze and lusterware fragments

> have been noted in Hellinistic Greece.  Artisans of 9th Century Islam later

> perfected the technique of tin-glzed ware.  Most notably, Samarrakind

> pottery of the Abbasid caliphs (made between 836 adn 883) was some of the

> most brilliantly colored pottery of this kind, and they employed this

> technique.


> Aslyn




    I agree with you on earlier examples of ceramics using tin based enamels.

Most likely this was not an idea original to della Robbia and, after a

re-read, I guess I did say that.


    The original question was looking into period use of terra cotta as a

decorative medium, specifically statuary, in Europe.  I've checked a couple of

books on the issue and every one points straight at della Robbia as the source.

They also credit him with the 'innovative' use of tin rather that lead based

enamel glazes.  This is probably Eurocentric history.  One source indicates that

tin based Majolica was being imported to Italy in the early Renaissance.

Specifically it came from the Western Mediterranian island of Majorca, the

Italian spelling being 'Maiolica.'  The Moors had brought the technique to Spain

during their invasions of the 8th Century.  On the other end of the

Mediterranean the Assyrians had the formula as early as 1100 B.C.  There was

also a backward shift of using lead instead of tin.  This was a deliberate use

started by Bernard Palissy in France about 1510 (this is the formula that

Herbert Minton copied in 1851).  Supposedly it gave a clear instead of an opaque

glaze (which is just the opposite of what another book says).  This process was

also called Faience, opposite to what you say above, that's history, go



    Anyway I'm not an enamlist and hardly a historian. Any fault you find,

I'll gladly blame on another :)  .



David 'datswhatdebooksaid' St. David



To: Librarians of the Known World <SCALibrarians at topica.com>

From: jahb at lehigh.edu

Subject: [SCALibrarians] Reviewed in Scout Report: Exeter Cathedral Carvings

Date: Fri, 09 Nov 2001 15:05:58 -0500


> 4.  Exeter Cathedral Keystones and Carvings: A Catalogue Raisonne of the

> Sculptures & Their Polychromy

> http://www.exetercathedral.co.uk/


> Exeter Cathedral Keystones and Carvings functions as "an illustrated

> introduction to, and explanatory catalogue of all the figurative sculpture

> that is part of the original interior fabric of the medieval building." The

> material on the site, which is primarily geared toward art historians and

> medievalists, was compiled by Avril Kay Henry, former professor of English

> Medieval Culture at University of Exeter, and the late Anna Carson Hulbert,

> a well known conservator. The site does not provide a tour through the

> cathedral so much as it offers photos and explanations of the individual

> sculptural pieces: "medieval bosses, corbels, labelstops, figurative

> capitals (and a few other interior carvings) which are an integral part of

> the medieval interior construction of Exeter Cathedral, Devon, England."

> Users can browse or search the contents, and a nice introduction and

> bibliography are both useful supplements. From the homepage, users can

> access a page that explains navigation and layout of the site, entitled The

> Resource: Coverage and Use. This one is well worth a stop for medievalists.

> [TK]



Date: Fri, 25 Jan 2002 13:40:38 -0500

From: rmhowe <MMagnusM at bellsouth.net>

To: - Atlantia <atlantia at atlantia.sca.org>,

   - Authenticity List <authenticity at yahoogroups.com>,

   - Regia Anglorum - North America <list-regia-us at netword.com>,

   "- SCA-ARTS at listsvr.pca.net" <sca-arts at listsvr.pca.net>

Subject: Medieval Sculpture Book


This is a particularly magnificent book on medieval sculpture.

Kilpeck church is primarily English Norman Romanesque with lots of

animal heads, etc. One of the most beautifully detailed churches

in England. The book contains more than just Kilpeck though.

Very useful for details on all sorts of items.


The Herefordshire School of Sculpture and Kilpeck Church

F C Morgan, Illustrated by Photos (lots of them).


I got my copy through http://www.abebooks.com/

Ran me less than $15. Well worth it.

Or try http://www.bookfinder.com/

It's a fairly current book and should be in print.




<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org