Sculpture Journal

A material distinction: fifteenth-century tin-glazed terracotta portraits in Italy

Sculpture Journal (2013), 22, (1), 7–20.

Abstract

For most of the fifteenth century, enamelled terracotta was a medium practised almost exclusively by the della Robbia family who, with the addition of enamel, transformed terracotta into a colourful and reflective medium. Scholarship on Renaissance sculpted portraits rarely mentions enamelled terracotta as a material for portraiture. This article considers how the appreciation of terracotta intersects with enamelled terracotta portraiture. In particular, the article examines some enamelled terracotta heads produced by the della Robbia in an attempt to better understand how these objects broaden and challenge our knowledge of the genre of portraiture. The Renaissance perception of this medium is explored to determine how the material affected the interpretation, purpose, or display of the sculpted portrait in the domestic environment. Because visual verisimilitude was never fully possible in enamelled terracotta, the medium must have achieved other goals.

Access Token
£25.00
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Miller, Stephanie