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Washington – Exhibitions, the National Gallery of Art celebrates three generations of the della Robbia family

“As an Italian I am proud that an exhibition is dedicated to the work of Luca della Robbia and his contemporaries because it puts them back at the centre of the focus of the American public. Ingeniousness, creativity and capacity for innovation are the main traits of these artists and they perfectly reflect some of the distinctive qualities of Italians,” said the Italian Ambassador in Washington DC, Armando Varricchio. The exhibition, which celebrates three generations of sculptors belonging to the della Robbia family and their contemporaries, will be hosted at the National Gallery of Art until 4 June.

The continuous research carried out by Luca della Robbia (1399/1400-1482) on different materials beyond the traditional marble and bronze, led him to invent a new technique that enabled his work to survive intact through the centuries. Thanks to his new terracotta enamelling technique, a “poor” material like terracotta can instead give life to bright-coloured and long-lasting works of art.

American Renaissance art-lovers visiting Italy have always had a weak spot for della Robbia’s work and have purchased quite a few pieces over the years. This explains why most of the works on show in the Exhibition are from American private collections.  

Special note should be taken of “The Visitation”, usually displayed in the Church of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas in Pistoia. Together with another three sculptures from the National Museum of Bargello and another sculpture from the Oratory of Saint Thomas Aquinas, it is the first time that the Visitation can be seen outside of Italy.